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Blog Tour Review: Last Light over Carolina, Mary Alice Monroe

From the back cover:

On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small shrimping village off the coast of South Carolina, a boat goes missing.  The entire town rallies as all are mobilized to find the lost vessel.  Throughout the course of one day, flashbacks of Bud Morrison, the captain on board, and Carolina, his wife, reveal the happier days of a once-thriving shrimping industry juxtaposed with the memories of their long term marriage.

Bud and Carolina fell in love at first sight, but that doesn’t mean their life together has been an easy one.  Their marriage has hugely deteriorated in recent years not only because of the decline of the shrimping industry but also because of a lack of communication and an unwillingness to forgive each other for sins committed in the past.  Over the course of this novel, they realize how much they need to find their way back to each other properly, not just go through the motions.

Even though these two main characters are in a completely different stage of life than I am, I still enjoyed this book and appreciated their bond.  This was made somewhat easier by the fact that their flashbacks encompassed all of their history, from the moment they met to their happiest moments to the mistakes they made.  The story was told in such a way that even though tension was building in the present day because of Bud’s accident, the flashbacks were still important and appropriate as both characters endure a particularly difficult day.

At the core, this is very much a book about relationships.  The novel takes us through the entirety of Bud’s and Carolina’s short courtship and marriage and we can see how they’ve changed and grown, for good or for bad, and eventually shows how they got to where they are in the present day scenes.  It isn’t just about them, though, it’s also their daughter Lizzy and her ex-husband Josh, their relationship with Carolina’s parents, developments between the friends that they made as youths, and among other shrimpers on the ocean.  It’s in a sense about the entire community and how it has changed right along with them in the thirty years since Bud and Carolina met and fell in love.

Last Light over Carolina feels very Southern.  The characters’ accents aren’t spelled out phonetically, but the way they speak and their mannerisms more than make it clear.  I loved the descriptions of life on the shrimping boat, the difficulties of working such long hours, the pain from hard labor, but with the beauty of watching the early morning sunrise and feeling free on the open ocean.  It’s easy to see how the various characters are drawn to this life even as the supply of shrimp begins to let them down.  The scenery is evoked wonderfully and places us right in South Carolina, in the Atlantic Ocean, and at times in Florida.  One of the blurbs on the cover says that this book brings the South to life and that feels true throughout the narrative.

I definitely enjoyed my time with this novel.  I came to appreciate the characters as I went on and to care about their plights.  I would love to go on a shrimper and see what they experienced for real.  Last Light over Carolina is a wonderful book and it’s well worth reading these carefully crafted pages.

Check out some of the other fantastic blogs on today’s tour:

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/
Books and Needlepoint: http://booksandneedlepoint.blogspot.com/
Booksie’s Blog: http://booksiesblog.blogspot.com/
Beth Fish Reads: http://bfishreads.blogspot.com/
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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