Moon Over Edisto by Beth Webb Hart is a stand-alone novel that beautifully captures the sights, smells and tastes of South Carolina's Lowcountry as the backdrop for this complex and moving drama involving the dysfunctional Bennett family. My attention was captured from the very beginning of this well-written novel.
I was drawn to this story because it seemed to fit two of my interests - southern fiction and relationship drama - and it certainly did not disappoint. South Carolina's Lowcountry and Edisto Island are so vividly described and become such an integral part of the story that they are elevated to character status - traditional southern cuisine, the Ravenel bridge, salt marshes, winding streams, and "massive live oaks, their Spanish moss waving in the light evening breeze from the creek."
This story is all about the Bennett family, a family Julia describes as "Southern Gothic Dysfunction." Instead of looking at how a seemingly loving marriage disintegrated, Moon Over Edisto focuses on the lingering effects of betrayal and desertion on the ones left behind, for it's always the innocent who are most affected.
Characterization is rich and complex. The older sister, Julia, tried to cope by running away and starting a new life in New York, though often haunted by panic attacks and bouts of depression. Meg - feeling that her father was a fool, while her mother had no clue - became harsh and legalistic, wanting justice for the guilty ones rather than grace, to the extent that her own marriage was threatened. Meg "realized how very worn out she was. How exhausting it was to wear her masks, to build her reputation, to prove to the world day in and day out that even though her parents were fools, she was not. She was a responsible, morally upstanding citizen. She could be counted upon. She was worthy of admiration. She would not shame her husband or falter in any way. She had the blessed life, and she would not squander it. Or would she?"
The three children from their father's other family simply captured my heart, especially Etta, who only talks to her little brother. I love how Beth uses art in this narrative, as Julia and Etta discover a shared talent. One day, Julia sees Etta's sketch of their father: "This young girl had captured something true about him. Something in his rich brown eyes that could only be described as love. How could someone with eyes like that cause so much damage?"
Although the ending is upbeat and satisfying, this is not a story where everything is tied up neatly, nor should it be. If I wished for anything, it would be a longer ending, but that in no way detracts from this powerful novel. There is a strong spiritual message, but rather than being overt, it is embedded in Julia's heart and actions. Julia's character occasionally uses the phrase, "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy," and these words seem to have so much more feeling and depth at the end.
I am so glad that I discovered Beth Webb Hart's work. Moon Over Edisto is a very moving novel with great depth, and I recommend it highly. I suspect many readers, especially those touched by divorce, will find that this story speaks to them.
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
As I started this book, I have to admit that I was not sure if I would like it. There are some very serious hurts that are being dealt with in this book. But as I read on, I discovered that I did not want to put this book down. The author did a great job of telling this story through the different perspectives of the characters in this book. The book delves into infidelity, desertion, desire for love and family, injustice, anger and hurt. We view much of the book through Julia's eyes, the oldest sister in a family that was destroyed by a father's infidelity and desertion. We also view events through her younger sister, Meg's, eyes. There is a lot of anger there. We see Julia's mom, Mary Ellen's, side of the story and view how her life has been for the past twenty years. We view part of the story from Jed's viewpoint. Jed is a neighbor and was Julia's first kiss. Finally, we get a child's perspective through Etta, who is one of the children from Julia's father's second marriage. This book is so interesting and I felt very emotional reading it. I really enjoyed the book, however, I felt it ended a little abruptly. I would have liked another chapter or two, or maybe an epilogue to really feel that the conclusion of the book lived up to the rest of the story. I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Moon Over Edisto by Beth Webb Hart was a book about love, forgiveness, and the power of art.
Julia's family, was the happiest family there was. She had picked up her Father's talent for painting and would love to paint the beauty of her homeland in the low country on Edisto Island in South Carolina right beside her Father. Her childhood was filled with wonderful memories, of painting, crabbing, and fishing with her loving parents always by her side. Then suddenly when she was a young adult everything shattered. Her parents out of the blue got a devorce and her Father married Julia's best friend. After 25 years Julia, her mom, and younger sister Meg were still trying to pick up the pieces. Just a few years earlier her father had died of a stroke after he had three more children with his new wife. Then suddenly an emergency forced Julia back to the place she use to call home so many years ago on Edisto to care for her three half siblings. But will she be able to face that place again without another break down? Will her or her broken family ever find peace and true happiness ever again? Beth Webb Hart did an amazing job of painting a picture with the power of words! But for about the first 100 pages it had a very slow start. And she was switching back and forth from different people too quickly, so it gave me no idea what was going on, which made me get board with it quickly. Though I have to say the ending will surprise you. Though this book was not my type of reading, after I got through half of the book it did grab my interest.
I got this book free from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.
This book got off to a really slow start. So much so that I read less than one chapter before setting it aside for something with a faster pace. After reading four(!) other books, I remembered this book on my e-reader and how much I was looking forward to reading a book set in the Low Country, and forced myself back into it. I'm so glad I did.
Once Julia makes the decision to head to South Carolina and care for her younger half-siblings, the story really picks up. I could almost taste the salty air and smell the pluff mud once Julia made it to Edisto Island. Ah, home. The next thing I knew I had finished the book and was wanting more. The characters came to life best from Etta's eyes. The silent child had the most insightful things to share. Meg has some justifiable anger towards her sister, but the way she treats her mother throughout much of the book bothered me.
Saying why would involve spoilers, so suffice it to say that I would love to see a sequel to this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÃÂ®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Life is messy and oftentimes the messiness inflicted on you is the result of others' actions. Several years before this story takes place Julia's father made a very messy decision. This decision shattered many lives and the cracks kept appearing even after he was gone. His actions set into motion repercussions for both of his families.
Julia has spent many years isolating herself from all of the pain and mess of her family. But sometimes there are journeys that we need to take. It may see as if we are doing something for someone else, but in the end we are the ones that are blessed.
Beth Webb Hart has once again woven a southern gothic dream (or is it nightmare) of a story. In this novel she allows her main character Julia to face the worst type of betrayal. The situation will have you yelling, NO NO NO_that's not fair! But we all know that life isn't fair, it's about refinement.
I enjoyed the book so much. Coastal South Carolina is my favorite place to be and Beth puts you right there with the pluff mud between your toes and the salty breezes in your hair. After reading it someone asked me if it was a happy ending. I had to respond that I don't really know. It wasn't what Julia had planned, but it was definitely what God had intended all along. It's a story that leaves you speculating about what all of their lives were like ten years down the road. My bet is that there are lingering consequences but most days are happily ever after. This book is definitely worth purchasing and savoring and then passing along to many others.