Wow! It is already Wednesday! I am still catching up after all the company I had in May. I am happy to be back in the routine and on the blog, even if I am buried. Today, I am bringing you a delightful beach read, The Guest House by Erika Marks. This is an easy, breezy, pleasant book that is perfect for whiling away a few sunny hours. I have Erika here to answer a few questions, and of course, a giveaway! First, here is Erika's bio:
A native New Englander, Erika Marks has worked as an illustrator, an art director, a cake decorator and a carpenter. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, a native New Orleanian, and their two daughters. This is her third novel. Visit her online on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Here is my interview with Erika:
I loved the seaside setting of Harrisport. What are your favorite shops to browse and places to eat while visiting the coast?
Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the setting. While it is a fictitious town on the Cape, I modeled it somewhat after Wellfleet, a town on the Cape that I adore. When I visit the coast, I always hope to bring back a piece of locally-crafted artwork (whether it’s a sculpture or a piece of pottery or a photograph, etc) so I always visit galleries—and bookstores, of course, because being on a beach always makes me crave a good read! Now when it comes to food, I am a seafood fanatic. A crab shack and whatever local catch is on the menu. A big basket of steamers. Scallops. Lobster rolls. Fried clams. I’m getting dizzy just typing!
The cottage and guest house felt like a secondary character in the story. At the end, it is unclear what the house's fate will be, what do you think will happen to the house?
I so appreciate that you felt that way about the house as you read the story; I certainly felt that way writing the novel. I’d like to think the house is bought by someone with the resources and the sensitivity to restore it and to return it to a place of energy and family and excitement and romance again. It has been in the Moss family for so long, that it seems impossible to the characters in the novel that a new family might take it over—but why not? So much of the book’s message is about letting go of the past—and I think sometimes we struggle to let go of physical spaces we’ve inhabited and their associations as much as we do people we’ve known.
One of the key parts of the story was the broken engagement between Lexi and Hudson. Do you think Hudson regrets not standing up to his father and choosing his own future?
For all of Hudson’s bitterness later in life, and his clear antagonism toward Cooper (presumably because he resents Cooper’s independence), I’m not sure Hudson ever really knows what he wants for himself, and therefore can’t feel strongly one way or another about his decision to leave Lexi. At one point, he even tells Lexi that he feels as if everyone else knows what he wants, but that he doesn’t. I think he regrets not having had the strength to stand up to his father, but I don’t know that he ever really loved Lexi enough to regret losing her, and I think that’s the truth Lexi has to come to for herself before she can let her strong feelings for Cooper take flight.
Edie gets her hair cut short, is there something significant about her hair cut?
I love that ask that—and that you remark on her short hair, which several of the men in story do too. Edie is, without question, a woman who likes to stir the pot, and I think she felt a certain relief and maybe even rebellion in cutting her hair. It is another way—whether she was aware of it or not—that she was asserting her independence, and challenging expectations. Certainly her husband Hank took notice—and Jim, too!
Owen's fate is uncertain at the end, will he find love again do you think?
Owen will need lots of time to find love again. By the end of the book, he is on his way to starting to let go of unrealistic expectations of the women around him: his daughter, his sister, his ex-wife, his mother. I think he certainly has a lot of work to do before he can let himself be open to loving someone, to trusting that love, to trusting his own heart. But now that he is finally being honest about who is daughter is and how she is growing into herself, maybe he can begin to do that.
What are your current picks for summer reads?
I’ve got some wonderful books to look forward to! Karen White’s THE TIME BETWEEN, Beth Hoffman’s LOOKING FOR ME, Elizabeth Strout’s THE BURGESS BOYS, Elin Hilderbrand’s BEAUTIFUL DAY, just to name a few!
Will you be spending anytime on the coast this summer?
I certainly hope so! In the four years my family and I have been living in NC, we’ve been able to explore many parts of the Carolina coast and I love them all—and we’re close enough to be able to sneak in a long weekend!
What is next for you?
I’m working on my fourth novel now—and I’m really excited about it. It’s set in Folly Beach, SC, and centers around a woman who was a champion surfer and who is given the chance to revisit her old life—and the friends and lovers she left behind.
Thanks so much, Erika for answering my questions! Best of luck with the release of The Guest House. Now for the giveaway! Thanks to the good folks at Penguin Group Publishing I have a copy of The Guest House to give away. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. This is open to U.S. residents and sponsored by Penguin Group. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Guest House by Erika Marks
For generations, the natives of Harrisport have watched wealthy summer families descend on their Cape Cod town and inhabit the massive cottages along the town's best stretches of beachfront. But when rich southerner Tucker Moss breaks the heart of local girl Edie Wright in the summer of 1962, an enduring war is started between the two families that lasts for generations.As Edie's youngest child, Lexi Wright should have known better than to fall in love with a Moss, but at nineteen, she falls hard for Tucker's son, Hudson — only to find herself jilted a few years later when Hudson breaks off their engagement to marry his high school sweetheart. Now, fifteen years later, Lexi has just returned home, secretly nursing a broken heart after another failed romance. But when Hudson’s younger brother, Cooper, arrives unexpectedly to reclaim the Moss cottage after his father’s death, an unlikely attraction forms between the two, and Lexi finds herself torn once again between passion and family loyalty. And then, renovations at the Moss guest house reveal a forty-five year-old declaration of love carved into a piece of framing — a truth that will force two women and the men who love them to confront the treacherous waters of their pasts.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published: June 4th 2013 by NAL Trade
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Lexi settles into the familiar booth of her favorite coffee shop, awaiting the arrival of her best friend. Harrisport is coming alive as the citizens of the town shake off the winter and prepare for the onslaught of summer tourists. Lexi loves watching her town return to life. Not much has changed in Harrisport over the years. Lexi finds that even after two years of being away, things are about the same. Everywhere she turns, she is haunted by the ghosts of her past, constant reminders of her time with Hudson Moss and their broken engagement. When Lexi receives a call from Hudson's younger brother, Cooper, asking her to photograph his family's property to prepare it to sell, Lexi agrees. Lexi and her family are soon forced to come to terms with the past, but can they find a new beginning?
What I Liked:
- This was a pleasant, straightforward summer read that kept me entertained from beginning to end. I liked that it was without heavy drama and that it focused on family, friendship and love. If you are looking for a nice beach book or an enjoyable read for anytime, this is a good bet.
- I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the characters. Each and every one of the characters felt genuine. It is always a joy to read a book that has memorable characters, and this one certainly delivers.
- I liked that this story encompasses the past and the present as you follow Lexi's mother forty years ago as she struggles with her love life, and then Lexi becomes tangled with the Moss family again year later. Just like in real life, love is never easy and things don't always turn out happily ever after, but there is always hope for a brighter future. I loved that the main theme of this story focused on letting go of the past and old heartaches and moving forward.
- Aside from the characters, I also enjoyed the setting. This book takes place in a small Cape Cod town where everyone knows everyone and the town comes alive with each new summer season. I loved how well Ms. Marks depicted this cozy Cape Cod town. I really liked the old cottage and guest house as well. The Moss family home actually felt like another character in the book, and I was completely in love with that old cottage by the end of the book. Ms. Marks definitely makes that house come alive!
- I liked that the book ended rather open ended, but on a nice bright positive note. It is easy to imagine how everything will turn out for the characters that I grew to love. I especially was pleased with how Lexi finally came to terms with her past.
- The romance in this one is sweet, satisfying and very believable. Granted, it isn't much of a surprise at all as to how things are going to go, but that doesn't matter because it is a pleasure to watch how everything unfolds. This is a romance that refrains from too much drama and tension, it is just simple and lovely. The male love interest is definitely swoon worthy and wonderful!
And The Not So Much:
- While I was completely drawn into Lexi and her mother's stories, I didn't connect as well with Owen's story. Owen and his daughter are Lexi's brother and niece. I just didn't feel like Owen's story connected well to the other two, and his story at the end, had the least resolution.
- I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to know Tucker Moss a bit better. I wanted to know if he really would have stood up to his father when it came to following his heart and if he was happy or miserable in his own marriage. Furthermore, I wanted to know why he would try and force his son into a marriage instead of letting him choose, especially after his own experience.
- As I mentioned, the old cottage plays such an important role in the story, at the end the fate of the house is still unsettled. I very much wanted to know what happened to the old house. In my heart, I hope that it would not be sold and that it would remain with Cooper.
The Guest House is a nice, light summer read with terrific characters and a cozy setting. This is a book about love, loss and letting go of the past. It is not overly dramatic, and I thought it was a perfect read for summer. If you are looking for a nice romantic read try The Guest House.
"Owen grinned as he steered them out of the parking lot. He loved his daughter's work reports, loved every mundane second. The summer weeks she spent with him were a treasure, each day a piece of gold, and he pocketed every minute."
"Then, when the sun slid down a satin sky and the lawn burned pink and violet, the tangle of party tones blended with the chorus of a string quartet. Bow ties and champagne toasts. Slipped shoulder straps. Heels abandoned in a patch of sea grass. Magic. From her very first visit, despite her every intention to resist its seduction, Lexi had been spellbound. Just like those gardenias, night or day, life had seemed forever in bloom here. Until, of course, the moment it wilted."
"She'd imagined her love for him like a handprint in soft cement, always permanent once dried. All this time there'd been someone else, another print."
"Above her the sky was warm and endless, the only break in it the sliver of crescent moon. It looked just like a smile, she thought suddenly, wondering how she'd never seen it that way before now."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.