Sandcastles [NOOK Book]

Overview

Luanne Rice is that rarest of all novelists who indelibly captures the defining moments in our lives. In this acclaimed bestseller, she takes readers on an unforgettable exploration of the most elusive miracle of all: how a broken family might be made whole again.
 
Painter Honor Sullivan had the perfect love and the perfect life with her husband, a renowned photographer and sculptor—until the day John’s passions led him to disaster, ...
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Sandcastles

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Overview

Luanne Rice is that rarest of all novelists who indelibly captures the defining moments in our lives. In this acclaimed bestseller, she takes readers on an unforgettable exploration of the most elusive miracle of all: how a broken family might be made whole again.
 
Painter Honor Sullivan had the perfect love and the perfect life with her husband, a renowned photographer and sculptor—until the day John’s passions led him to disaster, shattering their family and her heart. Since then, Honor has struggled to make a safe haven for herself and their three daughters at Star of the Sea Academy on the magical Connecticut shore.

    Now, years later, a mysterious letter in a familiar hand hints at John’s return to the family he’s always loved more than anything on earth. It will take nothing short of a miracle to heal the rift between father and daughters, husband and wife, the past and the present—but a miracle is exactly what is in the making at Star of the Sea Academy. The only question is: Do you believe?
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The bonds of love and the ties of family intertwine beautifully in Luanne Rice's consummate summer novel set on two different beaches -- one in Connecticut and the other in Ireland. The story revolves around a shocking episode six years earlier, when sculptor John Sullivan is arrested for murder in Ireland and the only eyewitness is his oldest daughter, 14-year-old Regis. Sullivan's failure to defend himself throws his long, passionate marriage with Honor into disarray: She retreats to the Connecticut seacoast to raise their three daughters, all of whom are damaged by the break. As Regis, now 20, prepares to rush into an ill-considered marriage of her own, her father comes home from prison, and his return throws the family dynamic into free fall. Rice seamlessly weaves family dramas and the many varieties of love into this heartfelt book. Ginger Curwen
Publishers Weekly
Given the title, July 4 pub date and settings on the Connecticut shore and County Cork coast, readers may expect the consummate beach feast from bestselling Rice (Summer of Roses). She almost delivers: all the ingredients for a clambake are here, but Rice doesn't bother to light the fire. Honor Sullivan is a woman torn apart. Her famous earthworks artist husband, John, has spent six years in an Irish prison for killing a man who attacked their then 14-year-old daughter, Regis. Now he's back at Star of the Sea Academy, the convent and school in Connecticut where the Sullivans live and teach-or rather, is in the area, but hesitant to return home and face Honor's ire at being effectively abandoned. His notes find their way to Honor, perhaps via Sister Bernadette Ignatius, who runs the community and is John's sister, and Auntie Bernie to John and Honor's daughters. Or perhaps they come via Tom Kelly, still in love with Bernie and bone-loyal to John. Add a little moonlight mysticism, Regis's impending bad marriage and a red-haired nurse given up for adoption the same year Tom and red-haired Bernie went off to Ireland to trace family roots. If only Rice seemed to care. If only she didn't craft an entire paragraph out of the word "Moonstones," which will have fans wistfully recalling nuanced Rice fiction like Blue Moon. (July 4) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Rice's (Summer of Roses) latest novel, the theme of which is truth telling, revolves around the Sullivan family, torn apart but struggling to reconnect. John Sullivan is a rugged artist in the style of Andy Goldsworthy; his nature-based sculptures ("sandcastles") are temporary, preserved in photographs. Having spent six years in prison for a murder committed at the site of one of his sculptures, John is released only to be rejected by Honor, his painter wife. Honor now yearns for security, unlike her adrenaline-seeking husband. The family crisis has disturbed the lives of their daughters: the eldest, Regis, has made a poor choice of fiance and teenage Agnes is seeking visions and seeing angels. Only when Regis admits that it was she, not her father, who killed the man vandalizing John's sculpture, does the family begin to heal and reunite. After all, as Agnes puts it, "the truth matters." Set in Connecticut and Ireland, this story will appeal to fans of family-relationship novels, such as those by Elizabeth Berg and Barbara Delinsky. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/06.]-Carol J. Bissett, New Braunfels P.L., TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rice's latest (Dance With Me, 2004, etc.) focuses on a family with major communication problems. John Sullivan is a talented Irish-American sculptor who finds inspiration in extreme climates. His grandest installation yet, a huge sculpture made of tree trunks, stands on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea in a remote part of Ireland. Soon after wife Honor and their three daughters come to see the completed project, John's hot temper and extreme nature land him in deep trouble. He's implicated in the mysterious death of a jealous local, found on a ledge beneath the cliffs with John's oldest daughter Regis standing by the body. Refusing to defend himself in court and drag Regis further into the case, John gets a sentence of six years in an Irish prison. The way his wife Honor sees it, he abandoned their family out of sheer stubbornness. Just a few months before Regis's wedding, John returns home to Connecticut from prison. Can he repair the damage that his absence has done? Honor is pondering divorce, and their daughters are basket cases. With a little help from his sister (a nun), John rekindles his romance with Honor. Their flaky offspring are the ones who really need guidance and attention. Regis is marrying for all the wrong reasons. Middle daughter Agnes has delusional tendencies, and when she incurs a suspicious head injury, her family wonders if she is suicidal. The Sullivans must come to terms with what actually happened six years ago in Ireland, or the family will be destroyed. Readers looking for Rice's standard mix of enduring love and family drama won't be disappointed. However, they certainly won't find anything new in this Celtic drama rife with predictable sins andone-dimensional people. (Not every character need be beautiful and brimming with passion.) The only love affair that rings true is the author's fawning adoration of Ireland. Overwrought and flimsy-but at least the coastal scenery is lovely.
From the Publisher
"Rice delicately handles heartbreak and redemption."—Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553902709
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/27/2006
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 76,102
  • File size: 620 KB

Meet the Author

Luanne Rice
Luanne Rice is the author of twenty-five novels, most recently Light of the Moon, What Matters Most, The Edge of Winter, Sandcastles, Summer of Roses, Summer’s Child, Silver Bells, and Beach Girls. She lives in New York City and Old Lyme, Connecticut.


From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Luanne Rice is the New York Times- bestselling author who has inspired the devotion of readers everywhere with her moving novels of love and family. She has been hailed by critics for her unique gifts, which have been described as "a beautiful blend of love and humor, with a little magic thrown in."

Rice began her writing career in 1985 with her debut novel Angels All Over Town. Since then, she has gone on to pen a string of heartwarming bestsellers. Several of her books have been adapted for television, including Crazy in Love, Blue Moon, Follow the Stars Home, and Beach Girls.

Rice was born in New Britain, Connecticut, where her father sold typewriters and her mother, a writer and artist, taught English. Throughout her childhood, Rice spent winters in New Britain and summers by Long Island Sound in Old Lyme, where her mother would hold writing workshops for local children. Rice's talent emerged at a very young age, and her first short story was published in American Girl Magazinewhen she was 15.

Rice later attended Connecticut College, but dropped out when her father became very ill. At this point, she knew she wanted to be a writer. Instead of returning to college, Rice took on many odd jobs, including working as a cook and maid for an exalted Rhode Island family, as well as fishing on a scallop boat during winter storms. These life experiences not only cultivated the author's love and talent for writing, but shaped the common backdrops in her novels of family and relationships on the Eastern seaboard. A true storyteller with a unique ability to combine realism and romance, Rice continues to enthrall readers with her luminous stories of life's triumphs and challenges.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Luanne:

"I take guitar lessons."

  • "I was queen of the junior prom. Voted in, according to one high school friend I saw recently, as a joke because my date and I were so shy, everyone thought it would be hilarious to see us onstage with crowns on our heads. It was 1972, and the theme of the prom was Color My World. For some reason I told my guitar teacher that story, and he said Yeah, color my world with goat's blood."

  • "I shared a room with both sisters when we were little, and I felt sorry for kids who had their own rooms."

  • "To support myself while writing in the early days, I worked as a maid and cook in one of the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. I'd learned to love to cook in high school, by taking French cooking from Sister Denise at the convent next door to the school. The family I worked for didn't like French cooking and preferred broiled meat, well done, and frozen vegetables. They were particular about the brand—they liked the kind with the enclosed sauce packet. My grandmother Mim, who'd always lived with us, had taken the ferry from Providence to Newport every weekend during her years working at the hosiery factory, so being in that city made me feel connected to her."

  • "I lived in Paris. The apartment was in the Eighth Arrondissement. Every morning I'd take my dog for a walk to buy the International Herald Tribune and have coffee at a café around the corner. Then I'd go upstairs to the top floor, where I'd converted one of the old servant's rooms into a writing room, and write. For breaks I'd walk along the Seine and study my French lesson. Days of museums, salons du thé, and wandering the city. Living in another country gave me a different perspective on the world. I'm glad I realized there's not just one way to see things.

    While living there, I found out my mother had a brain tumor. She came to Paris to stay with me and have chemotherapy at the American Hospital. She'd never been on a plane before that trip. In spite of her illness, she loved seeing Paris. I took her to London for a week, and as a teacher of English and a lover of Dickens, that was her high point.

    After she died, I returned to France and made a pilgrimage to the Camargue, in the South. It is a mystical landscape of marsh grass, wild bulls, and white horses. It is home to one of the largest nature sanctuaries in the world, and I saw countless species of birds. The town of Stes. Maries de la Mer is inspiring beyond words. Different cultures visit the mysterious Saint Sarah, and the presence of the faithful at the edge of the sea made me feel part of something huge and eternal. And all of it inspired my novel Light of the Moon."

  • "I dedicated a book to Bruce Springsteen. It's The Secret Hour, which at first glance isn't a novel you'd connect with him—the novel is about a woman whose sister might or might not have been taken by a serial killer. I wrote it during a time when I felt under siege, and I used those deeply personal feelings for my fiction. Bruce was touring and I was attending his shows with a good friend. The music and band and Bruce and my friend made me feel somehow accompanied and lightened as I went through that time and reached into those dark places.

    During that period I also wrote two linked books—Summer's Childand Summer of Roses. They deal with the harsh reality of domestic violence and follow The Secret Hour and The Perfect Summer When I look back at those books, that time of my life, I see myself as a brave person. Instead of hiding from painful truths, I tried to explore and bring them to the light through my fiction. During that period, I met amazing women and became involved with trying to help families affected by abuse—in particular, a group near my small town in Connecticut, and Deborah Epstein's domestic violence clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. I learned that emotional abuse leaves no overt outward scars, but wounds deeply, in ways that take a long time to heal. A counselor recommended The Verbally Abusive Relationshipby Patricia Evans. It is life-changing, and I have given it to many women over the years."

  • "I became a vegetarian. I decided that, having been affected by brutality, I wanted only gentleness and peace in my life. Having experienced fear, I knew I could never willingly inflict harm or fear on another creature. All is related. A friend reminds me of a great quote in the Zen tradition: "How you do anything is how you do everything."
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      1. Date of Birth:
        September 25, 1955
      2. Place of Birth:
        New Britain, CT

    Read an Excerpt

    Prologue

    In Ireland


    It was the land of their ancestors, and Honor swore she could hear their voices crying in the wind. The storm had been building since morning, silver mist giving way to driving rain, gusts off the sea now blowing the hedges and trees almost horizontal. The stone walls that had seemed so magical when she’d first arrived now seemed dark and menacing.

    From the plane yesterday morning, Honor had been awed by the green, by the emerald grass and hedgerows and trees. Her three daughters had gazed down, excited and hoping they could see their father’s sculpture from the sky. He had written them letters about Ireland, and about the West Cork farmhouse he had found for them to stay in, and how he’d built his latest work on the very edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. They had fought to open the letters when they came, and be the one to read them out loud, and sleep with them under their pillows.

    “There it is!” Regis, fourteen, had cried out, pointing at a crumbling castle.

    “No, it’s there…” twelve-year-old Agnes had said, crowding her sister to point out the window. Square green fields ran along the coast, each dotted with tiny white farm buildings. Stone towers and ruined castles seemed to crown every high hill.

    “They all look like the pictures he sent,” Cecilia, just seven, had said. “It doesn’t matter which house it is, as long as he’s in it. Right, Mom?”

    “Right, sweetheart,” Honor had said, sounding so much calmer than she’d felt.

    “It’ll be just like home, Mom,” Agnes had said, forehead pressed to the plane’s window. “A beach, and stone walls…only now we’ll be on the other side of the Atlantic, instead of home in Black Hall. It’s like going across a mirror…”

    “Look at all that green,” Cecilia had said.

    “Just like our green fields of home,” Agnes had said, unconsciously echoing the lyrics of a song her aunt used to sing to her.

    “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you see Daddy?” Regis had asked, turning to peer at Honor. There was such a challenge in her daughter’s face–almost as if she knew how troubled her mother felt.

    “She’s going to hug and kiss him,” Agnes said. “Right, Mom?”

    “That’s what I’m going to do, too!” Cece said.

    “The first thing I’m going to do,” Regis said, “is ask him to show me his sculpture. It’s his biggest one yet, and it’s right at the edge of the highest cliff, and I want to climb up on top and see if I can see America!”

    “You can’t see America across the Atlantic Ocean, can you, Mom?” Cece asked.

    “I’ll be able to see it, I swear I will,” Regis said. “Dad said he could see it, so why wouldn’t I be able to?”

    “Your father was speaking figuratively,” Honor said. “He meant he could see it in his mind, or his heart…the dream of America that our ancestors had when they left Ireland.”

    “And Daddy’s still dreaming,” Cece said.

    Cece had counted the days till this trip. Agnes prayed for his safety. And Regis followed in his footsteps. Although she didn’t want to be an artist, she did want to live life on the edge. Over the past year she had been delivered back to the Academy by the police twice–once for diving off the train bridge into Devil’s Hole, and once for climbing to the top of the lighthouse to hang the Irish flag.

    Instead of being upset, John had gone straight to the lighthouse with his camera to take pictures before the Coast Guard could climb up to take the flag down. He had been touched by his daughter’s Irish pride, and by her way of making a statement–regardless of risk.

    Almost like his sculptures; he called them “sandcastles,” which called to mind gentle beaches, families building fragile towers in the sand at the water’s edge. But John’s installations were sharp, kinetic, made of rock and fallen trees, dangerous to build.

    Now, on this craggy headland in West Cork, the spiky top of his latest–the bare, unadorned branches of a tree that had fallen somewhere, hauled here by John–was visible over the next rise, at the edge of a cliff, ninety-foot granite walls that dropped straight into the churning sea.

    Honor stood at the bedroom window of the farmhouse he’d rented, looking out. John came out of the shower to stand behind her, putting his arms around her and leaning into her. Their clothes lay in a heap beside the bed. Her sketchpad, abandoned yet again, sat on the desk. She had made a few drawings, but her heart wasn’t in it.

    “What were you drawing before?” he asked, his lips against her ear. He sounded tentative, as if he wasn’t sure how she’d respond.

    “Nothing,” she said. “You’re the artist in the family.”

    Honor pressed against his body, wishing she could turn off her thoughts and give in again to the desire that overtook her every time she saw her husband. She wished he hadn’t asked about her drawing.
    She gazed down at the small pile of moonstones–luminous, worn smooth by the waves at the foot of the cliff, a gift from John the minute she’d stepped off the plane–on the desk beside her sketchpad. She knew he’d meant them as a peace offering, but her heart was reluctant to accept it. She felt turned inside out, frayed from the stress of trying to keep up with him. He turned her toward him, pulled her body against his, and kissed her.
    “The girls,” Honor said.

    “They’re sleeping,” he whispered, gesturing toward their daughters’ room as he tried to pull her back to bed.

    “I know,” Honor said, “They’re jet-lagged and exhausted from the excitement of being here, seeing you.”

    “But what about you?” he asked, stroking her hair and kissing the side of her neck. He sounded so hopeful, as if he thought maybe this trip could stop what they both felt happening between them, stop what they had always had from slipping away forever. “You’re not tired?”

    “Yes, me too,” she said, kissing him. She was beyond tired; of wanting him to come home, of worrying that he’d get hurt or killed working on his installations alone, of wishing he’d understand how worn out she was by the demands of his art. At the same time, she was tired of being blocked. It was as if his intense inspiration had started killing the fire of her own. Even her drawings, such as they were, were of his soaring sculpture just over the next rise. She peered out the window, but the structure was now obscured by today’s wild storm.

    He had taken them all to the cliff edge yesterday, when they’d first arrived. He’d shown them the ruins of an old castle, a lookout tower built a thousand years ago. Sheep grazed on the hillsides, impossibly steep, slanting down to the sea. The sheep roamed free, their curly white wool splashed with red or blue paint, identifying them for their owners. They grazed right at the base of John’s sculpture.

    It affected Honor deeply–to see her husband’s work here in Ireland. They had dreamed of coming for so long–ever since that day twenty five years ago when she, John, Bernie, and Tom had found the box in the stone wall. Honor knew that John had always felt a primal pull to be here, to try to connect with the timeless spirits of his family, as Bernie and Tom had done years earlier. In this green and ancient land, his own family history meshed powerfully with his artistic instincts, an epiphany in earth and stone.

    His sculpture awed her, as his work often did–she found it inspiring, disturbing, stunning, rather than beautiful. She knew the physical effort it took him to drag the tree trunks and branches here to the cliff’s edge, to raise them up and balance them against the wind, to haul rocks into the pile–cutting his hands and forearms, bruising his knuckles. John had hands like a prize-fighter’s: scarred and swollen. Only, it had so often seemed to Honor, that the person he was most fighting was himself.

    The sculpture rose up from the land like a castle; echoing the ruins just across the gap. It seemed to grow from the ground, as if it had been there forever, a witness to his family who had worked this land, farmed these fields, starved during the famine. He was descended from famine orphans, and as he and Honor and their daughters walked the property, she had to hold back tears to think of what their ancestors had gone through.

    And what John experienced now. He was an artist, through and through. He channeled powers from far beyond his own experience–became one with the ghosts, and the bones, and the spirits that had suffered and died. That’s why he’d come to Ireland alone–to haunt the Cobh docks from which his family had emigrated, to drink in the pubs, and to build this monument to his Irish dead.

    His sister Bernie–Sister Bernadette Ignatius–was probably the only person who really understood him. Honor loved him, but she didn’t get what drove him, and she was also a little scared of him. Not that he’d ever hurt her or the girls, but that he’d die in pursuit of his art. It wore her down, it did.

    She’d felt exhausted yesterday, standing at the base of his huge, ambitious, soaring, reckless installation. How had the wind and the weight of his materials not carried him over the edge of the cliff? How had the storm-scoured branches, the bark stripped right off them, not fallen on him and crushed him? Alone on this headland, he would have never gotten help.

    “You did this alone,” she’d said to him while the girls explored the headland. The sculpture rose above them–in silhouette it had what she had failed to notice before, a cross set at the top, to mirror not the castle ruins, but Bernie’s chapel across the sea.

    “No,” he said. “I had some help.”

    “Who? Did Tom fly over?”

    “No, Tom’s too busy at the Academy,” John said. “This was a local guy, an Irishman I met…”

    Something about the way he trailed off made Honor stop asking. Strange people were sometimes drawn to John because of his work. He unlocked the souls of all kinds of people–there was something about the soaring, spiritual, seeking nature of what he did that spoke to the hurt and troubled. She shivered at the way John looked now, his lips tight, as if there was a back-story to his assistant that she was better off not knowing.

    “Have you taken the pictures yet?” Honor asked.

    He shook his head–was that sorrow, or regret? He glanced around the headland, as if on guard against a threat.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked, her skin crawling.

    He hesitated. She saw him peer at the sky, then at the sea, at low black clouds gathering along the horizon. And he decided to lie; regarding the weather, it was true in its own way, but it obscured his real concern, so Honor wouldn’t have to worry too.

    “I haven’t gotten any decent shots yet,” he said. “The days have been too sunny, which is great, and makes me so glad that you and the girls got to see Ireland in the sun. But I need some shadows and rain, to get the atmosphere the piece needs.”

    His work was a two-part process; he built sculptures from materials gathered entirely from nature. Then he photographed them, and let nature take the work apart again. The wind, or the sea, or a river, or gravity would destroy what he had done, but the photographs would last forever. Very few people actually saw his installations–Honor and the girls, Bernie and Tom were among the people who did. But the world–art lovers, environmentalists, and dreamers–knew the photographs of John Sullivan.

    “Looks like you’re getting your wish,” she said, pointing at the dark clouds scudding along the horizon.

    “Maybe,” he said, hugging her. “Then we can go home.”

    It had struck her, almost bitterly, how tender he sounded. John was never in a hurry to get home; he made a life of his work, and his family had to fit in around his trips and installations. But she also felt some hope–he wanted to come home this time. She wasn’t begging him. She believed he knew how close they were to losing their marriage.

    He had called the girls over yesterday, let them pet some of the sheep, showed them the stone walls, famine walls built during the 1840’s by his ancestors, starving to death and worked to the bone. He pointed at the maps he’d brought from Connecticut, shown them how the walls corresponded with the ones built by his great-grandfather across the water, on the grounds of Star of the Sea. He told them that the cross on the top of his sculpture lined up perfectly with the one on the top of the Academy’s chapel.

    Agnes had wanted to walk on the walls, and Regis had wanted to climb the sculpture, all the way to the cross. Cece had clung to her mother, afraid the wind might blow her off the cliff–even though the sun had been shining, brightening the green, making the blue sea gleam down below, as the wind, barely a whisper that morning, began to pick up.

    Honor had pulled Cece into a quiet hollow, sheltered from the stiff wind, and pulled her sketchpad from her jacket pocket. Sitting there, hearing John and the older girls talking and laughing, she had sketched John’s sculpture. An artist herself, she had once been passionately inspired by John’s work–and he by hers. But lately she had just felt daunted. Sketching his sculpture on what felt like the edge of the world, holding her youngest, she remembered some of the joy art had brought her. As John’s work had gained power, she had lost track of herself. Maybe she could turn that around….

    Today Ireland’s gentle green was gone, washed away by sheets of cold rain. The fog was gray and constant. Instead of reinforcing her bleak mood, it made her feel happy to be safe and cozy with her family–all together again. An east wind had whipped into a full gale, howling off the sea, blowing whitecaps into spume, churning up the dark bay. Honor felt as if they were on a peninsula at the end of forever.
    She felt John’s warm body against hers, wanted to follow him into bed; something about the coziness of their cottage juxtaposed to the dangerous cliff edge made her want him more than ever. But as she started to turn away from the window, she saw the flash of someone passing by.

    “Did you see that?” she asked. “Someone on the path–right there.”

    John glanced out the window. He frowned and pressed his head against the glass and tried to see through the rain–there were big, muddy footprints through the side yard, leading toward his sculpture, and he caught a glimpse of a tall man hurrying along.

    “Who is it?” she asked, watching John pulling on his jeans.

    “I don’t know,” he said.

    “Then why are you getting dressed so fast?” she asked. “I thought–“

    “Where are the girls?” he asked.

    “In bed,” she said. “We just said…they’re tired from traveling…”

    “Honor,” he said. “That guy I told you about. I met him down at the docks in Cobh. I went to do research there, to find out about the ships my family immigrated to America on. And I stopped into a bar, and got to talking to someone–he’s from Connemara, but came down here looking for work. I needed some help with the heavy lifting, and I hired him. Gregory White.”

    “He helped you?”

    “Yes, I paid him. But now he won’t leave me alone. He keeps coming back for more work, more money, and when I told him there wasn’t any more, he vandalized my sculpture. Tore off some of the branches and threw them off the cliff. Knocked the cross off, so I had to climb up and put it back.”

    “Why did he do that?”

    John shook his head. “I don’t know. Greg’s messed up. Drinks a lot. I made the mistake of telling him about the gold ring, and now he’s convinced there’s pirate gold buried on the land. He’s nuts. We got into a fight, Honor. He was screwing with my work, and I told him I’d kill him if he did it again.”

    “What makes you think that was him just now? Couldn’t it be someone else, just taking the coast path?” Honor asked, even as she started to shiver. Grabbing her robe, she suddenly felt cold, as if the wind were rattling through the windowpanes and into her bones. She felt her heart plummet. She and John had been doing so well since she and the girls arrived, and now this….

    “On a day like this?” John asked. She saw the rage building in his muscles; his shoulders seemed to double in size when he got this mad. It was never at her, but she felt it all the same. “Goddamn it. Goddamn it. If he does something else to the installation, I swear to God. The whole bar heard me tell him what I’d do to him. I warned him!”

    “John, stop it!”

    “Call the garda, Honor. The police. The number’s by the phone. I’ve had it with this. Tell them to come to the Old Head. Ballincastle, right?”

    “John, don’t go out in this,” she said, staring into the bleak, ferocious weather. Even as she spoke, he opened the door. The wind howled, blowing papers in a cyclone around the room. John’s eyes met Honor’s, but he didn’t even speak. He just left the house, slamming the door.

    This was her life, she thought. One minute in John’s arms, and the next–if the spirit moved him, impelled him into a fifty-knot gale–left standing alone to wonder what had just happened. She heard her own words of the last moments echoing in her ears: “John stop–please, John–don’t!” She felt as if she had somehow become the mother of a stubborn, willful boy. What had happened to the Honor who’d climbed hills with him, stretched the limits on her own art?

    “Where’s Dad going?” Regis asked, sleepy, coming through the door in her nightgown.

    “He’s checking on his sculpture,” Honor said, picking up the phone, wishing Regis hadn’t chosen this moment to wake up.

    “Who are you calling?” Regis asked.

    “Go in with your sisters,” Honor said, covering the receiver. “Right now, Regis!”

    Looking alarmed, Regis backed into the bedroom as her mother dialed. Honor reached over, pulled the door tightly shut, just as the Irish voice answered: “Gardai.”

    “This is Honor Sullivan,” she said. “My husband asked me to call you–he’s built a sculpture on Ballincastle, at the Old Head, and he said someone, Gregory White, has been damaging it. We saw someone pass by on the coast path outside our house–John thinks it was him, that he’s here now, and he asked that you send help.”

    “What’s that name again?”

    “My husband’s name is John Sullivan, and the man is Gregory White. We’re at Ballincastle,” Honor said, edging toward the window, her heart starting to pound. She could barely see ten feet in front of the house, through curtains of rain. The footprints seemed deeper, closer. Peering over the rise, she couldn’t even glimpse John’s sculpture, couldn’t see the cross.

    “Would Gregory White be the same man whose life your husband threatened? We’ve been called to pull your husband off him before.”

    “Just get here!” she cried.

    Then, just before the connection was broken, she heard the voice chuckle and say “the monstrosity…” As if the person had spoken to someone standing there, speaking of John’s sculpture…

    “The what?” Honor asked.

    But the phone line was dead. She pulled her robe around her tighter. John got lots of reactions to his work; people loved it or hated it. Not like Honor’s paintings and drawings–her landscapes of the countryside and seashore around Black Hall. They were quiet, pretty, popular…safe. She had lost the way to her deepest forces and inspiration, but her students at Star of the Sea, where she was the art teacher, wouldn’t know that.
    Right now, hearing the police belittle John’s work, she felt her blood boiling. Should she go after him now, try to help? She wavered, leaning against the windowpane. What if he needed her? Who was Greg White, and why was he trying to destroy John’s work? Her skin crawled at the though that her husband could be in danger. She felt the pit in her stomach, deep and terrible. The police said John had threatened his life. What kind of fight had they had in that bar?

    Oh God, she was so on edge. She always was; this trip to Ireland had felt like a walk across razor wire. Her chest hurt; it felt so heavy, as if her heart was turning to stone. When it came to John, she hardly knew what to do anymore. She had three young daughters, and she was always worried and afraid that they would lose their father. Almost worse, she felt that she and John had lost their connection. There were moments she didn’t think she could take it another day.

    Regis had seen her crying just before they’d come over to Ireland. She’d found Honor in her studio, bending over a handful of John’s photographs–silvery pictures of the ice caverns he’d sculpted when they were young, after a blizzard had blanketed the Connecticut shoreline. She remembered that John had worked until he had frostbite. He had wound up in the ER. Honor had wept for the young couple they had been, for her young husband who had thought he had to push himself that far, for the way he hadn’t let up on himself at all. Regis had seen her weeping and asked in a strangled whisper, “Are you and Daddy going to get divorced?”

    “Mommy?” Agnes called now, from inside the farmhouse bedroom.

    “What, honey?” Honor asked, not wanting to move away from the window.

    Outside, a siren sounded–thread-thin, it was swept away by the wind, making Honor wonder if she had heard it at all.

    “Mommy…” Agnes said again, slowly and quietly.

    “Don’t tell her,” Cece said in a stage whisper. “Regis said not to!”

    Honor turned quickly at that. She walked into the bedroom shared by all three girls–just like at home–and saw her two youngest daughters sitting on Agnes’s bed.

    “Where’s Regis?” she asked.

    “That’s what I wanted to tell you,” Agnes whispered.

    “But we’re not supposed to,” Cece said. “Regis said not to.”

    “Said not to tell me what?”

    “Don’t,” Cece warned, looking at Agnes.

    “She went out to help Daddy!” Agnes blurted out.

    “No,” Honor said. “Please, no.”

    Honor was frozen. She heard the siren again, or thought she did. Doubting her hearing, she couldn’t ignore the feeling in her blood. It was cold, as if her heart had started pumping ice, and she knew before she knew.

    She ran to the window, then to the door. Pulling it open, she felt the storm’s force flatten her against the wall.

    She was barefoot, dressed in her robe, but she ran outside. Her feet sank in the cold mud. The younger girls were right behind her, beside her.

    “Get back inside!” she ordered them

    “We’re scared,” Agnes shrieked. “Don’t leave us alone.

    She grabbed their hands. Breathless, they ran toward John’s sculpture. It had looked like an ancient castle against the sky, but now she couldn’t see it at all. Driving rain and fog obliterated everything, blurred the rocky cliffs, the green hills. Even the sheep looked like clouds blowing off the sea. Honor heard another siren, and had to jump back with the girls, allowing the police car to pass on the narrow road, blue light flashing.

    “Mommy, what’s wrong?” Agnes cried.

    “What’s happening?” Cece wailed.

    Honor was scared, too. Trembling, she held the girls’ hands. Small rocks on the road cut her feet. The blue lights sparked up ahead, showing the way. She scanned the hillside for John’s sculpture, but couldn’t see it–until they rounded the corner, and she saw the trunks and branches toppled over, lying on the ground at the very edge of the cliff. The gardai had clustered at the precipice, looking down.

    “Regis!” Honor cried. “John!” Then, “Girls, stay here–right here!”

    Dropping her younger daughters’ hands, she tore across the field. Breathless, she stopped at the brink. Daggers stabbed her eyes–silver knives of wild rain. She couldn’t bear to look. The cliff was ninety feet high; the wind blew her back, and she had to inch her way forward. Weighted with dread, it took super-human effort to look down the jagged cliffs falling to the sea.

    Expecting to see everything she loved crashed on the rocks ninety feet below, she gasped to see the narrow ledge just twenty feet down. A man’s body lay crumpled on the rock, blood spreading from his head. Regis, her lips blue-white with shock, stood beside his body, a woman’s officer’s arms around her. John looked up at Honor, his blue eyes sharp with rage, meeting hers just as the gardai snapped handcuffs on his wrists.

    “John,” she called down the ledge.

    “He tried to kill Regis,” John said.

    “But what–“

    “He tried to kill my baby,” John said. “So I killed him.”

    “Don’t say anything else,” Honor said.

    “It’s too late,” an officer said, shoving him. “He’s already proved he has a history of violence, and fifteen people heard him threaten this man. The fall didn’t do that to his head. You heard him. That’s a confession.”

    They led John and Regis up the narrow path from the ledge to the hillside, past the destroyed sculpture, and Honor grabbed Regis, her sobs a muffled keening as the wind shrieked in their ears and the rain pelted their faces, and John was taken away.


    From the Hardcover edition.
    Read More Show Less

    Introduction

    In this captivating family saga that sweeps from ancient Irish shores to a beautiful seaside community in Connecticut, New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice invites us to explore the powerful tides of memory and love. Sandcastles is the story of artists Honor and John Sullivan and their three daughters, a family seemingly bound by deep-rooted loyalty–until one horrific night that leads to John’s imprisonment in the land of his ancestors. Years later, when John is at last released and slowly reacquaints with his family, rifts prove difficult to mend. It may take a miracle–or a whisper from years past–to restore elusive trust.

    Read More Show Less

    Foreword

    1. What were your impressions of Honor and John’s relationship in the initial scenes of Sandcastles? Throughout the novel, how did your perceptions of that violent night change?

    2. Discuss the differences among the three Sullivan daughters. In what ways do Regis, Agnes, and Cecilia complement one another’s personalities? How do they each respond to the absence of their father?

    3. What unites the settings in Sandcastles? In what ways do the magnificent coastlines reflect the events unfolding around them? What makes Star of the Sea an ideal locale for this family’s safe harbor?

    4. How would you characterize Bernadette’s relationship with her relatives? How does her knowledge of the past affect their family ties?

    5. What qualities make John a perfect hero? Is his temper a sign of his courage, or is it his greatest weakness?

    6. Discuss the differences between John’s art and Honor’s. How do these differences reflect varying perceptions of the world? What powers do John and Honor ascribe to art?

    7. What was your initial understanding of Agnes’s visions? What miracles were needed to heal her family?

    8. Though he is not able to resolve his quest as soon as he had hoped, Brendan leads Bernadette to confront the truth. What does this aspect of the storyline illustrate about the nature of families, biological and otherwise?

    9. What accounts for Regis’s attraction to Peter? Would she have married him if her father had not intervened?

    10. In what ways is it fulfilling to connect with our ancestry, possibly even traveling to immigrant homelands? What is unique about the black Irishlegacies portrayed in Sandcastles? How do those legacies shape the way the characters see themselves?

    11. What were your theories about the scripture carved in the grotto? In the end, what did those verses signify for all who encountered them?

    12. Why was it so difficult for Honor to let herself forgive John, while her daughters tended to defend him? In what ways had Honor stopped trusting him long before the night of Gregory White’s death?

    13. Discuss the significance of the novel’s title. What fragile aspects of the Sullivans’ lives remain intact? Which aspects were inherently temporary, and perhaps even more beautiful because of their impermanence?

    14. In what ways does Sandcastles enhance themes woven in other Luanne Rice novels you have read? What unique perspectives do the Sullivans give us regarding love and kinship?

    Read More Show Less

    Interviews & Essays

    A Letter from Luanne Rice Dear Reader, Summer is here, and I hope you're ready for the beach! One of my earliest memories is of seeing my mother in her beach chair, reading a book under an umbrella by the water's edge while my sisters and I played beside her. Of all the life lessons she taught me, that is one of my favorites: to take time at a place I love, restore my spirit with books and the beach. Maybe that's why I loved writing Sandcastles so much; I felt the strong connection of a mother and her daughters, of stories and the sea. It's about the secrets and mysteries within a family, the kind of love that can push you to the edge and pull you to the safest place you can imagine. It's about first love -- the yearning, wishing kind none of us ever forget -- and longtime love -- the kind that can break so hard you think it will kill you. It takes place on two magical beaches an ocean apart from each other. My first three-sisters novel in a while, Sandcastles tells the story of the Sullivan family -- two passionate artists and their three wildly different daughters. There's also a renegade nun and a mystery man, but I don't want to give too much away! I traveled to Ireland to research Sandcastles, to visit the coastline where my ancestors looked toward America, the tiny town they once loved so much, and the docks from which they sailed toward their dreams of building a better life for their family. The answers I found on that journey are woven through the novel… This summer I'll be down at the beach, under an umbrella, getting lost in a book. I hope you have the chance to read and relax, and I wish you a wonderful summer! With love,
    Luanne Rice
    Read More Show Less

    Reading Group Guide

    1. What were your impressions of Honor and John’s relationship in the initial scenes of Sandcastles? Throughout the novel, how did your perceptions of that violent night change?

    2. Discuss the differences among the three Sullivan daughters. In what ways do Regis, Agnes, and Cecilia complement one another’s personalities? How do they each respond to the absence of their father?

    3. What unites the settings in Sandcastles? In what ways do the magnificent coastlines reflect the events unfolding around them? What makes Star of the Sea an ideal locale for this family’s safe harbor?

    4. How would you characterize Bernadette’s relationship with her relatives? How does her knowledge of the past affect their family ties?

    5. What qualities make John a perfect hero? Is his temper a sign of his courage, or is it his greatest weakness?

    6. Discuss the differences between John’s art and Honor’s. How do these differences reflect varying perceptions of the world? What powers do John and Honor ascribe to art?

    7. What was your initial understanding of Agnes’s visions? What miracles were needed to heal her family?

    8. Though he is not able to resolve his quest as soon as he had hoped, Brendan leads Bernadette to confront the truth. What does this aspect of the storyline illustrate about the nature of families, biological and otherwise?

    9. What accounts for Regis’s attraction to Peter? Would she have married him if her father had not intervened?

    10. In what ways is it fulfilling to connect with our ancestry, possibly even traveling to immigrant homelands? What is unique about the black Irish legacies portrayed in Sandcastles? How do those legacies shape the way the characters see themselves?

    11. What were your theories about the scripture carved in the grotto? In the end, what did those verses signify for all who encountered them?

    12. Why was it so difficult for Honor to let herself forgive John, while her daughters tended to defend him? In what ways had Honor stopped trusting him long before the night of Gregory White’s death?

    13. Discuss the significance of the novel’s title. What fragile aspects of the Sullivans’ lives remain intact? Which aspects were inherently temporary, and perhaps even more beautiful because of their impermanence?

    14. In what ways does Sandcastles enhance themes woven in other Luanne Rice novels you have read? What unique perspectives do the Sullivans give us regarding love and kinship?

    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
    • Posted November 12, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      A Love Story about Family and Faith

      This was my first Luanne Rice book. I must say I was deeply moved by her storytelling and the story itself.

      This is a story about a father's love for his family and about forgiveness, understanding and faith. It is about a family torn apart but a cruel past, about a burning love so passionate that it does not diminish over time and truth.

      John and his wife Honor are artist; he a photographer and she a painter. They have 3 beautiful daughters: Regis, Agnes and Cecilia. A trip to Ireland to uncover their past and learn about their families end in tragedy not for just John and Honor but for John's sister, Bernie and John's best friend Tom Kelly.

      Tragedy stikes John and Honor when John kills a man in self defense - definding his daughter, Regis. John is taken to jail in Ireland for six years as Honor tries to keep her family together. John comes back to Connecticut to try and reconcile with his family, his love Honor. As he embarks on the journey back to his family, the truth of what happened in Ireland comes to haunt him and Regis and the rest of the family.

      For the past few years, Bernie, Sister Bernadette Ignacious, has been Mother Superior and Tom has worked around the academy ... knowing his love for Bernie could never die, he gives up his family fortune and works around the Academy to be close to his love, the one he could never have. John's return to CT brings back memories of a love he and Bernie once shared when they took the trip before John and Honor to Ireland to uncover their families past. Reeling from emotions, Bernie must decide if what she thought was her calling could have been a mistaken comprehension of a vision she once had telling her which road to take in life.

      This book was so dramatic and full of faith and passion and love. A coming home tale of love, loss and reunion.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 23, 2009

      LOVED IT !

      Do not miss this treasure....LuAnne Rice rocks ! I never want her books to end and this is one is no different. When you read a book and feel like the characters are family finishing the book can be difficult because it like saying good-bye. I can and will read this treasure over and over and you should as well

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 12, 2012

      Great read

      So unlike anything else, this book is really refreshing. I'm not Catholic but I easilly tagged along with this family's trials, faith, and love. Must read.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 16, 2009

      Potential only partially realized

      The plot and the characters themselves provide vehicles for real potential drama and philosophical debate through the nature of their respective journeys. However, I was personally disappointed in the way that the author chose to develop the plot and each of the characters. I was not looking for a sugary sweet happy ending. Real life is by nature messy and complicated. The author does do a good job of depicting that and I do think that she successfully navigated past a potentially unrealistic 'happy ending'. However, in an attempt to depict heightened drama of various resulting conflicts within the overall plot, I feel that the author neglected to allow for palpable character and plot development. For this reader's experience,it came at the expense of allowing for the opportunity to form real attachments to the characters and their struggles. Thus, it became difficult to attach any real fondness or sympathy for the outcome of those characters. This reader wishes that the author had taken more time developing the story and any messages she may have deemed desirable and or appropriate to convey through the vehicles of her plot and characters. Unfortunately, the author just didn't provide enough 'gas' to properly complete the journey before allowing the story to reach her chosen destination.

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    • Posted December 9, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      interesting family drama

      After six years in an Irish prison for killing the man who assaulted his fourteen years old daughter Regis, renowned earthworks artist John Sullivan is freed. He returns to Connecticut, but is hesitant to go home to the nearby Star of the Sea Academy and convent where his family works and lives because he fears his beloved spouse Honor will reject him for the harm he caused her and their three daughters. --- He turns to his sibling Sister Bernadette Ignatius and his best friend Tom Kelly to serve as communicators between him and his wife as John worries that Regis is heading down the aisle into a bad marriage while his offspring wants him at her wedding. His other two daughters do not openly greet him either as one feels he abandoned her and her siblings and the other does not know him as she was too young when he left. However all that is topped by his trepidation that his beloved Honor will not take him back if he can find the courage and get her alone amongst the Connecticut Moonstones perhaps the magic will surface for he believes it remains alive just dormant. --- This is an interesting family drama due to the differing reactions of the three siblings as one desperately wants her dad back in her life another wants him totally out of her life and the third is unsure what she wants when it comes to him. John knows he has made mistakes that he can never atone for, but prays for a second chance with his beloved fearsome female foursome. Though the solution seems too simplistic, contemporary fans will enjoy this second chance at love. --- Harriet Klausner

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