ISBN The Beach Trees
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Now in mass market from the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street novels: a story of one woman’s journey into a secret past—and a life she never expected on the ravaged coast of Biloxi, Mississippi…
Working at an auction house in New York, Julie Holt meets a struggling artist and single mother who reminds her very much of her missing younger sister. Monica Guidry paints a vivid picture of her Southern family through stories, but never says why or how she lost contact with them. And she has another secret: a heart condition that will soon take her life.
Feeling as if she’s lost her sister a second time, Julie inherits from Monica an antique portrait—as well as custody of her young son. Taking him to Biloxi, Mississippi, to meet the family he’s never known, Julie discovers a connection of her own. The portrait, of an old Guidry relative, was done by her great-grandfather—and unlocks a surprising family history….
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went Out, Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, A Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two children near Atlanta, Georgia.
The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over. -Aesop
Death and loss, they plague you. So do memories. Like the Mississippi's incessant slap against the levees, they creep up with deceptive sweetness before grabbing your heart and pulling it under. At least, that's what Monica told me. Monica had been the one with the memories of the great muddy river that cradled the Crescent City, and of the sparkling water of the gulf and the bright white house that sat before it.
My own family settled in Massachusetts about one hundred years after the Pilgrims, and my sturdy New England upbringing left me unprepared and a little in awe of Monica, with her strange accent that curled some words and mispronounced others, that was neither Southern or Northern but a strange combination of both. Her stories of her childhood were seasoned with the dips and waves of her accent, almost making me forget that Monica had abruptly turned her back on these places that existed so vividly in her memories, and never gone back. Like me, Monica was a self-imposed orphan living and working in New York City, both of us trying very hard to pretend that we belonged there.
I leaned forward in the minivan's driver's seat and glanced in the rearview mirror at Beau, Monica's motherless little boy, and the fear and anxiety that had been dogging me took hold again. In the last two months I had gone from being a workaholic at a reputable auction house, with no other responsibilities except for my monthly rent and utilities, to the broke, unemployed guardian of a five-year-old boy, possessor of a dilapidated minivan, and apparently the owner of a beach house in Biloxi, Mississippi, with the improbable name of River Song. Despite almost a lifetime spent collecting things, I was at a loss to explain my recent acquisitions.
Beau stirred, and I found myself hoping that he would remain asleep for at least another hour. Although we'd stopped overnight in Montgomery, Alabama, listening for endless hours to Disney music was more of a strain on my already raw nerves. For nearly twenty hours we'd been traveling south in a van built during the Reagan administration, through towns and scenery that made me think I'd taken a wrong turn and stumbled into a foreign country. After recalling some of the stories Monica had told me about growing up in the South, I realized that I probably had.
I looked into the rearview mirror and into greenish blue eyes so much like his mother's, offset by remarkably long and dark eyelashes. Monica said the lashes were from all the Tabasco sauce Louisiana mothers put in their baby's bottles to get them used to hot food. The memory made me smile until Beau looked back at me, his eyes repeating his question.
"No, sweetheart. Your mama isn't here. Remember what we talked about? She's in heaven, watching over you like an angel, and she wants me to take care of you now."
His face registered acceptance, and I looked away before he could see what a fraud I really was. I knew less about Monica's Catholic heaven and angels than I did about raising young children. There was something about this whole experience that was like on-the-job training for a career I'd never wanted.
Beau lifted his left thumb to his mouth, a new habit started shortly after his mother died. In his right hand he held Monica's red knit hat that he placed against his cheek, and began to softly scratch a hole into the knit. It had become his constant companion, along with the dozens of Matchbox cars and LEGOs he managed to secrete in his pockets, backpack and pillowcase. Although just barely five, he'd seemed t
[White] describes the land and location of the story in marvelous detail. The Huffington Post
Tightly plotted...a tangled history as steamy and full of mysteries as the Big Easy itself. Atlanta Journal Constitution
White has once again written a novel that is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, and is filled with all the gentle nuances of the graceful, but steadfast, South...Readers will find White s prose an uplifting experience as she is a truly gifted storyteller. Las Vegas Review-Journal
White s ability to write a book that keeps you hankering for more is her strong suit. The Beach Trees is a great book about the power of family and connection that you won t soon forget. South Charlotte Weekly
White...weaves together themes of Southern culture, the powerful bond of family, and the courage to rebuild in the face of destruction to create an incredibly moving story her dedicated fans are sure to embrace. The Moultrie News
A worthy novel to read any time of year anytime you wonder if it s possible to start anew, regardless of the past. The Herald-Sun (NC)
More Praise for the Novels of Karen White
There is a rhythm to the writing of Karen White. It has a pace, a beat, a cadence that is all its own. The Huffington Post
The ultimate voice of women s fiction. Fresh Fiction
White s dizzying carousel of a plot keeps those pages turning, so much so that the book can [be] and should be finished in one afternoon, interrupted only by a glass of sweet iced tea. Oprah.com
This is storytelling of the highest order: the kind of book that leaves you both deeply satisfied and aching for more. New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams
White entwines historical fact and research seamlessly through the lives of these strong and intriguing women. Library Journal
White s ability to showcase her characters flaws and strengths is one of the best in the genre. RT Book Reviews