Luanne Rice is a rarity among novelists today; she's a true storyteller. Her unique ability to weave together the bonds of love and family with the challenges and rewards of everyday life has garnered her eight consecutive top ten New York Times bestselling paperbacks. With Beach Girls, Luanne Rice returns to the place that she was born to write about-the Connecticut shore-to tell a story about a family of women whose lives encompass three generations, their histories intertwined with that of the mystic coastal town that has forever bound them to one another. Beach Girls explores the complex and contradictory territories of love, family and friendship. Luanne Rice's sensuous prose and unforgettably rich and textured characters guide us toward a truth that lies within and sometimes beyond our dreams-an enduring strength that we all must embrace to find our way home and into the hearts of those we cherish most. Beach Girls is an enthralling novel of haunting beauty that will resonate long after the final page is turned.
Like a milder Northern cousin of Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Rice's latest (following Dance with Me) celebrates the near mystical persistence of female bonds. While summering in the seaside town of Hubbard's Point, Conn., Emma Lincoln, Stevie Moore and Maddie Kilvert, the titular beach girls, were inseparable, but as adults, they've drifted apart. Stevie lives like a hermit in Hubbard's Point, unaware that her old friend Emma died in a car crash, leaving behind a husband, a child and secrets. When widower Jack brings his daughter, Nell, to the Point, Nell searches out her last link to her mother: Stevie. A bestselling children's author, Stevie is drawn to Nell and her attractive dad, but the protagonists must struggle with doubts and fears before they can consider a future together. This book is more sentimental and less suspenseful than Rice's previous novels, and fans of her earlier book, The Perfect Summer, may find the premise-a spouse who dies suddenly, with secrets that leave family in disarray-overly familiar. Fortunately, Rice's gorgeous descriptions and sensitive characterizations compensate for those flaws. Few writers evoke summer's translucent days so effortlessly, or better capture the bittersweet ties of family love. Agent, Andrea Cirillo. (Aug.) Forecast: Those who can't get to the beach will feel transported there upon opening this book, which will likely be a seaside essential for many readers. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 02, 2004
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Excerpt from Beach Girls by Luanne Rice
Her mother's best friend lived in a blue house, and that was all Nell Kilvert knew. So, from the minute she and her father had arrived at the beach for their summer vacation, Nell had kept her eyes peeled for a blue house. When she asked her father where it might be, he said that after so many years away, his only strong memory of Hubbard's Point was of falling in love with her mother on the boardwalk.
Beach girls now, beach girls tomorrow, beach girls till the end of time . . . Nell still remembered her mother's stories about Hubbard's Point, where she'd spent her childhood summers. She said that she and Aunt Madeleine and her best friend--what was her name --were happiest with their feet in salt water. Her mother had said that no matter where they were, no matter where life took them, they would always be united by blue summer skies, high winds and sudden gales, and hot beach sand under their bare feet.
Hot beach sand . . .
Nell felt it now, scalding the soles of her tender feet. "Ouch, ouch," she said out loud.
A girl about nine--her age--looked up from her beach towel. "Stand here," she said, moving over so Nell could get some relief from the hot sand.
"Thanks," Nell said, standing on the very edge of the girl's towel.
"Do you live here " the girl asked.
"We're renting a cottage," Nell said. "My father and I."
"That's good," the girl said. "What's your name "
"Nell Kilvert. What's yours "
"Peggy McCabe. I live here. Year-round."
"Oh," Nell said. She felt funny standing on the corner of the strange red-haired girl's towel, and thought how cool and fun it would be to live at the beach all year. Then, realizing that she had a Hubbard's Point expert on her hands, her eyes widened. "Do you know any blue houses "
Peggy looked puzzled. "Well--that one," she said, pointing.
Nell looked over. Tall grass grew at the end of the beach, holding the sand in place so that no storm could ever wash it away. A big blue house nestled on the low dune--Nell had thought it had to be a beach club, but her father had told her it belonged to some lucky family. He had told her that it was built on pilings, to keep it above the highest tides, and that when they were young, he and her mother had gone underneath to kiss. Did it belong to Mom's best friend Nell had asked, tingling. No, we didn't know the owners, her father had replied.
"A different blue house," Nell said to Peggy.
"Oh," Peggy said, getting a funny look on her face. "The witch's house."
"The witch "
Peggy nodded, scooting over even farther on her striped towel, inviting Nell to sit down. She pointed across the crescent of white sand and sparkling bay to a house on the Point, hidden in lacy blue shadows of oak and fir trees. Nell peered, shielding her eyes from the sun with visor-hands. "That house looks white to me," she said.
"It is now," Peggy said. "But it used to be blue. When I was really little. I remember, because my sister Annie had a song about it: