Mary Alice Monroe’s latest work, “The Summer of Lost and Found,” is the seventh novel in her Beach House series, a long-time favorite among her many bestsellers.
Written during the 2020 pandemic, the story is set in real time. The tone is positive as Monroe’s characters thoughtfully find ways to meet the challenges and make the best of all the changes. A timely story, readers, both first-timers and her legion of fans will find “The Summer of Lost and Found” comforting and enjoyable.
“I wrote this novel in real time – and what a roller coaster journey it has been,” Monroe said. “Set against the backdrop of coronavirus, this book explores the meaningful family and life lessons learned, and the joyful memories created, during a season of opportunities lost and found.”
As the summer of 2020 arrives, it bears little resemblance to the plans laid out by Cara and her niece, Linnea. Cara rents Primrose cottage (the “beach house”) to her niece Linnea, who was recently furloughed from her job. Awaiting her boyfriend, Gordon’s, imminent return from his overseas work, everything starts changing when her former love interest shows up unexpectedly, and is quarantined next door.
Cara’s husband becomes ill and Linnea takes on the job of nanny to Cara’s daughter, Hope, as a precaution. An old friend moves in to the cottage with Linnea and a dearly loved older friend struggles with dementia. With patience, and remembering their matriarch’s legacy of Primrose Cottage as a place of fostering care, the Rutledge women strengthen the bonds of family and friendship.
There is humor and inspired determination propelling this story, which is marked by the absence of Monroe’s typical strong themes of wildlife, conservation and the environment. That is, absent except for the sea turtles, which play a large role during summers on the Isle of Palms but a more minor role in this book.
The author’s loving nod, at the conclusion, to these ancient creatures, bears witness to their special place in the hearts of the Rutledge family.
“The Summer of Lost and Found” can be read as a stand-alone, but after the year we were dealt in 2020, readers are urged to do themselves a favor. Start with book No. 1, “The Beach House,” and get to know the Rutledge women, Primrose Cottage and Lovie’s legacy and love of the sea turtles. The other titles, in order, are “Swimming Lessons,” “Beach House Memories,” “Swimming Lessons,” “Beach House for Rent,” “Beach House Reunion,” “One Ocean Boulevard,” and finally, “The Summer of Lost and Found.”
This is great binge reading that will take you through the summer.
Glenda Harris is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.