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#181 ~ Last Light over Carolina ~ Review and Blog Tour

Cover of Last Light Over Carolina

Last Light over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe

Life is hard in McClellanville, South Carolina.  It was built on shrimping, a difficult and demanding industry that had once been good.  With the easy access to foreign shrimp and the decreasing catches over time, more and more people are leaving McClellanville behind.  Carolina and Bud Morrison have lived the shrimper’s life.  They married with much passion and high hopes for the future, but they’re marriage is about as vital as Bud’s credit.  Bud leaves for work on his boat, the Miss Carolina in the morning without making Carolina get up to fix him breakfast.  She was up with a toothache most of the night and he wanted to allow her some more sleep. Still, they had faught the night before and he left without a kiss.  They both remember the glory of their early days together and wonder if the lethargy and lack of forgiveness that has engulfed their marriage is just part of being married for so long.  They had no idea what would happen to Bud that day on the Atlantic and how it would change their perspective on everything.

Shrimp Boat by Sue Lynn Cotton

Shrimp Boat by Sue Lynn Cotton

My favorite scene of the novel was the scene where Bud, his father Oz, his brother Buddy, and his cousin Pee Dee found their own secret sweet spot of shrimp and brought in the haul of their lives.  Despite the harsh lifestyle required to be a shrimper, it was easy to see why the exhilaration of that day would keep a man working in that craft for life.  It’s equally easy to understand why a man looking to regain his place in his community and his stature in his family would choose to return to that spot even when the conditions were not favorable.  His marriage is rocky and the fact that he can’t provide basic dental care for his wife makes him feel even worse.  He found magic in that spot of the ocean where the Morrison family stacked their claim thirty years ago.  Going back was the only logical thing he could do to save them.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Mary Alice Monroe. I’ve only heard good things about her writing and now I see why. From the beginning there was something comfortable and familiar about her prose. There was just something about this story and the way that it was written that felt like home. The simple introduction of Carolina barely awake with a toothache while Bud prepared for the day felt so lived. That passage brought to mind flashes of Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson from In the Bedroom, a movie with just the right tone and lighting for their home and their marriage. Just as in the movie, the characters are real. They don’t sleep in full make-up and they are almost simply resigned to their fate.

Last Light over Carolina is a beautiful novel that tells the story of a marriage, a  family, and a struggling coastal South Carolina town.  What happens to McClellanville and the Morrison’s marriage mirror each other.  They both have lost the passion that made them what they were.  From the moment I picked it up, I never wanted to put it down.  Reading this book made it so easy to understand why the life surrounding shrimp is so often romanticized.   Despite the hard work and awful hours, the world opens up in a special way only for them.  It’s no wonder when you Google shrimp boat, you’ll find so many oil paintings and watercolors. Just like Monroe’s writing, it captures and keeps your imagination.  I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.

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Thanks to Sarah from Pocket Books for sending me a copy of this novel for review.  I’m so happy to be participating in my first Pocket Books Blog Tour.  This was a wonderful first novel to get my feet wet (no pun intended – only caught that myself on the re-read).  Here are some of my fellow tour hosts and hostesses:

All About {n}: www.bookwormygirl.blogspot.com
Bookin’ with “BINGO”: http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/
My Guilty Pleasures: http://www.mgpblog.com/
Just Jennifer Reading: http://www.justjenniferreading.blogspot.com/
Chick With Books: http://www.chickwithbooks.blogspot.com/
Bella’s Novella: http://www.bellasnovella.com/
BermudaOnion’s Weblog: http://www.bermudaonion.wordpress.com/
Books and Needlepoint: http://booksandneedlepoint.blogspot.com/
Booksie’s Blog: http://booksiesblog.blogspot.com/
Beth Fish Reads: http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/
Medieval Bookworm: http://chikune.com/blog/
Living Life and Reading Books: http://ilovelovebooks.blogspot.com/
Book N Around: http://booknaround.blogspot.com/
The Eclectic Book Hoarder: http://eclecticbookhoarder.blogspot.com/
Pick of the Literate: http://bookrevues.blogspot.com/
A Book Bloggers Diary: http://abookbloggersdiary.blogspot.com/
My Friend Amy: http://www.myfriendamysblog.com/
The Tome Traveller’s Weblog: http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/
Gaijin Mama: http://gaijinmama.wordpress.com/
Blog Business World: http://blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com/
ScarpettaJunkie’s Blog: http://scarpettajunkie.wordpress.com/
Frugal Plus: http://frugalplus.com/
Carolina Gal’s Literary Café: http://susansliterarycafe.blogspot.com/
This Book For Free: www.thisbookforfree.com
Marta’s Meanderings: http://martasmeanderings.blogspot.com/

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12 Comments

  • At 2009.07.14 01:19, Lisa said:

    Sounds like a must read!
    .-= Lisa´s last blog .. =-.

    • At 2009.07.14 06:51, Just Mom said:

      I remember how devastated McClellanville was by Hurricane Hugo driving through was so sad. A favorite bumper sticker around here to support the shrimpers says, “Friends don’t let friends eat imported shrimp.” Book sounds like a good read.
      .-= Just Mom´s last blog .. =-.

      • At 2009.07.14 07:35, Sandy said:

        I so hope there will be giveaways on this book, because I must MUST have it. I will pimp myself out to get it. I have a special love for South Carolina. That whole area, especially the coastal area, stole my heart long ago, and sweeps me away whenever I read about it. I’m sure by the end of this book, I would have a warm fuzzy feeling and stars in my eyes! Thanks for the review!!!
        .-= Sandy´s last blog .. =-.

        • At 2009.07.14 08:49, Kathy said:

          I loved this book too! Carolina and Bud and their feelings were all so real and I was just so engrossed in their lives from the first page. It didn’t hurt that the book is set in my adopted state. Thanks for including me in your links, even though I’m not officially on the tour.
          .-= Kathy´s last blog .. =-.

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          • At 2009.07.14 09:15, Beth F said:

            Sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to read it. I am actually not on the tour.
            .-= Beth F´s last blog .. =-.

            • At 2009.07.14 09:20, Anna said:

              Boy, I’m sorry I missed out on this tour. Sounds like a great read.
              .-= Anna´s last blog .. =-.

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              • At 2009.07.14 09:29, Meghan said:

                Glad you loved it too! =) It is a wonderful read. I didn’t realize there were so many paintings and photos of shrimp boats out there, I guess many real life men and women feel the same as the people in the book do.
                .-= Meghan´s last blog .. =-.

                • At 2009.07.14 09:41, Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf said:

                  Great review! I’ve never read anything by Mary Alice Monroe, either, so perhaps I’ll give this one a try. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
                  .-= Melissa @ Melissa’s Bookshelf´s last blog .. =-.

                  • At 2009.07.14 13:13, Darlene said:

                    Lovely review Jennifer. This seems like a book I’d really enjoy.
                    .-= Darlene ´s last blog .. =-.

                    • At 2009.07.14 21:40, Jennifer said:

                      Sorry about the mix up, Beth. I copied and pasted the names and URLs from the site. I added Kathy’s when I saw her comment.

                      To those of you who haven’t read this book, you really should. I saw another review that talked about the parallels between this novel and The Old Man and the Sea. I don’t know if Last Light over Carolina is necessarily in the same league, but the sea holds wonderful metaphors for liturature.

                      • At 2009.07.15 03:38, Lisa said:

                        The more I read about this book, the more I want it! Nice review! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
                        .-= Lisa´s last blog .. =-.

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                        • At 2009.07.15 10:48, Carey said:

                          I loved this one, too. The characters felt so real to me. That’s a fantastic picture, the one guy out there alone on his boat. Very appropriate!

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