Untying the Moon: A Novel

Untying the Moon: A Novel

Untying the Moon: A Novel

Untying the Moon: A Novel


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A woman’s journey of self-discovery takes her across the coastal South and on to Alaska in this “beautifully written” novel (Foreword Reviews).

A child of the South Carolina lowcountry, Bailey Martin is in perpetual motion. A marine biologist by training and an artist by nature, she is a woman of contradictions: a free-spirited adventurer who is at the same time deeply committed to her family and the environment. Restless and troubled, Bailey sets out in her ‘67 Skylark convertible, from Manhattan down the eastern seaboard, from coastal Carolina to the Alaskan wilderness and back again, all in search of the embrace of love and—finally—of home.

Along the way, Bailey connects with some of the most important people and places in her life. She visits her fisherman father and falls in love with a troubled Vietnam veteran; she reflects on the beauty of nature, the devastations of oil spills and violent storms, and her own past.

Set in the 1980s, Untying the Moon explores the redemptive powers of nature, creation, and storytelling itself. With prose that ebbs and flows from the lyrical and lush to the staccato and sparse, Untying the Moon is rich with classical allusions and regional folklore, the beauty of its settings, a diverse cast of characters, and all the mystery and magic of fate.

Foreword by New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611176117
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/12/2021
Series: Story River Books
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 200
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ellen Malphrus lives and writes in her native Carolina lowcountry and southwest Montana. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Southern Literary Journal, Review of Contemporary Fiction, William and Mary Review, Georgia Poetry Review, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and the anthology Essence of Beaufort and the Lowcountry. She was a student of James Dickey's and teaches at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Pat Conroy was the New York Times–bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of TidesThe Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Water Is Wide) before publishing his first novel, The Boo. Conroy passed away in 2016 at the age of seventy.

What People are Saying About This

Allen Wier

Ellen Malphrus' enchanting Bailey Martin was conceived and born in water, and she carries the birthmark of the South Carolina lowlands with her wherever she goes. Bailey, like memorable American literary characters before her, is in motion, lighting out for the territory ahead. As she follows the twists and turns of rivers and ocean shorelines, Bailey must also navigate the convoluted and changing course of her heart. This is a novel about the incomprehensible contradictions and consequences of love and violence. Malphrus' lush, lyrical language is wedded to her witty yet generous and wise sensibility that hovers over every page. Untying the Moon shapes a sensuous world both magical and very real, a geographical and emotional environment that the reader will never forget.

N. Scott Momaday

This is a book in which the writing and the writer are one. Ellen Malphrus is in full control of her craft. Her story is sound, her voice clear and melodic, her perceptions keen, and her characters sharply defined and vital. Untying the Moon is a literary experience of considerable merit, one to be savored and remembered.

Mary Alice Monroe

The dolphin-haunted Carolina coast of Ellen Malphrus's masterful, lyrical novel Untying the Moon brings us deeply into the natural wonders of the Lowcountry. Like the adventurous and near-mythical wandering heroine Bailey Martin, readers will not be able to resist the magnetic pull of Malphrus's loving depictions of the landscape, its marvelous inhabitants—both human and animal alike—and its welcoming embrace that always and truly feels like coming home.

Ann Hite

This wonderful novel builds beautifully as a young woman, Bailey, makes her way down the East Coast in her beloved car Blue Ruby. The imagery is vividly alive and the ever-changing setting becomes a character, setting the tone for the book's journeys of distance and spirit. The ebb and flow of Ellen Malphrus's lyrical language resembles the movement of the ocean and rivers in Bailey's life. The story is wonderfully layered and masterfully crafted, making for a fine literary novel and truly a treasure to read.

Valerie Sayers

It's a delight to make the literary acquaintance of Ellen Malphrus. Her writing is both assured and fresh, grounded in the rich traditions of Southern literature and yet utterly contemporary. Her language is exuberant, her contemplations moving. She's a great observer of women's lives and no slouch with portraits of men either. Untying the Moon predicts the start of a long, rich career.

Ron Rash

Untying the Moon introduces an exciting new voice in Southern fiction. Ellen Malphrus's kinetic heroine Bailey Martin takes the reader on an eventful,at times bumpy, ride across the continent in a search, ultimately, for the road that leads home.

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