Elegant Kate, walking a tightrope over an abyss of lies...sensitive, sensible, self-contained Cecie...Ginger, the heiress, sexy, vibrant, richer than sin...and poor, hopeless, brilliant Fig -- they came together as sorority sisters on a Southern campus in the '60s. Four young women bound by rare, blinding, early friendship -- they spend two idyllic spring breaks at Nag's Head, North Carolina, the isolated strip of barrier islands where grand old weatherbeaten houses perch defiantly on the edge of a storm-tossed sea. Now thirty years later, they are coming back. They are coming back to recapture the exquisite magic of those early years...to experience again the love, the enthusiasm, the passion, pain, and cruel-betrayal that shaped the four young girls into women and set them all adrift on the...Outer Banks.
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November 10, 2003
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Excerpt from Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons
ON the Outer Banks of North Carolina there is a legend about the ships that have come to grief in the great autumn storms off those hungry shoals. Over the centuries there have been many; the Banks have more than earned their reputation as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Most of the graves are in Diamond Shoals, just off the point of Cape Hatteras, but the entire hundred-odd-mile sweep of coast has devoured its measure of wood and flesh. Myths and spectres and apparitions lie as thick as sea fog over the Banks, but the one that I have always remembered is the one Ginger Fowler told us all... Cecie, Fig, Paul Sibley, and me... the September of my last year in college, when we were visiting her between quarters.
"They say that whenever a ship is going to go down you can hear something like singing in the wind," she said. "Bankers say it's mermaids, calling the sailors. Lots of them claim to have heard it. It's not like wind or anything. They say when you hear it, you have no choice but to follow it, and you end up on the shoals. A few of the sailors who've been rescued swear to it."
We were sitting on the front veranda of the Fowlers' house on the dunes on Nag's Head beach, watching the twilight die over the Atlantic. On either side of us hulked the great, black-weathered, two-and three-story cottages that made up what the Bankers call the Unpainted Aristocracy -- a long line of huge, weather-stained wooden summer houses that had been built in the early days of the century by the very rich. When they were first built, the houses reigned alone on that lordly line of dunes, owning by sheer force majeure the wild, empty beach. Now they are surrounded by flealike armies of bungalows and time-shares and fishing piers and umbrella and float rentals, like mastodons beset by pygmies. But even now, when you are on the front porches or verandas, you have no sense of the graceless, idiot hoards nibbling at their skirts. Only of wind and sun and emptiness, and the endless sea.