“The past has come knocking on Julia’s door. Can she summon the courage to answer betrayal with love? On Edisto, she begins to reconnect with the place and the people and she’s been running from her whole adult life. There’s the local doctor who once stole a kiss from her on that very beach, and the siblings she’s never known—especially the sister with selective mutism named Etta who’s the keeper of nearly every family secret . . . including the very one that just might bind-up Julia’s long-since shattered heart.”
I don’t remember the last time I cried reading a book. That usually takes place during a movie, “Downton Abbey”, or a Subaru commercial. I did cry in my 9th grade English class because we had to read “The Hobbit”, but that was only because fantasy land was not my favorite place to reside. While reading “Moon Over Edisto” my emotions ran the gauntlet and I enjoyed every word!
Julia’s father, Charles, abandoned their family to wed a friend of hers, Marley, who visited their home in Edisto Beach, South Carolina every summer. It is a betrayal that affects each member of the family, mother Mary Ellen, sister Meg, and Julia in their own separate ways. The mistake of a beloved lawyer and artist in a small town had repercussions beyond their own family, as well. In time, Charles and Marley had three children; Marley was pregnant with the youngest when Charles had a heart attack and died. The family had kept to themselves in the summer home of Julia’s childhood, having all but the entire town turn its back on them save Charles’ elder sister Dot. Four years later, Marley needs Julia’s help with her children as she has to undergo an operation to remove cancer from her lungs.
Julia has thought she has left her old life behind. She packed up and left for New York City becoming a successful artist, a talent she inherited from her father. She’s on the fast track to a wonderful future. Engaged to successful English art dealer who has brought her many connections to the academic art world, she is to leave for a teaching assignment in Budapest when Marley comes to town. Aunt Dot persuades her that it will only be for a short time and then she can resume her life again. Of course, plans can’t be that simple!
This book follows a different writing format. Each chapter is written from the eyes of a major character in the book. Each character becomes just as close to you as the main character of Julia. The story unfolds further with every chapter as you read each point of view. Even though I have never experienced anything quite like Julia’s life, I found I was able to understand and validate each character’s emotions in some way. Mary Ellen’s happy world came tumbling down when the love of her life abruptly walked away. Charles took away her children from her as well, with Julia moving states away and Meg staying in town yet becoming increasingly distant. Meg felt resentful towards her mother for not fighting to keep the family together and hatred for her sister who brought the home wrecker into their lives. Julia only wanted to run away from her past and never meet it head long despite the physical pains she endured, such as depression and anxiety attacks. She also longed for her family to be complete again and build the loving relationship she once had with her mother and sister.
It is easy to place yourself in Julia’s shoes. Would you want to be a caregiver to your father’s children, your half siblings, whom he had with a woman your own age? It would be a difficult decision to make. Do you place the well being of innocent children before your own desires no matter how painful accepting the realities of the past can be? Aunt Dot placed a foundation of God and church in the hearts of Julia and Meg when they were children. Are those truths still relevant in Julia’s life even though she hasn’t thought to pray in years?
I loved reading this book because of the in depth detail of the South Carolina lowcountry. If you read it, you will see why I was blessed to grow up around water and now blessed to live in that same lowcountry! The slow Southern lifestyle is a joy to read about, especially all the food that was devoured. The only con to the book is that there are no recipes in the back pages! This is one of the best books I have read in a long while. Mrs. Hart brings you into the intimate lives of each character and if you are anything like me, you will feel a deep connection with them all. Both families are in need of healing; one with closure and the other with acceptance. God’s plan is surely in action!
*Disclosure* Booksneeze has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions in this review are mine alone.
By BETH WEBB HART
Copyright © 2013 Beth Webb Hart
All right reserved.