Beach House Memories

Beach House Memories

by Mary Alice Monroe


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Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of the Lowcountry Summer trilogy, returns to her beloved South with Beach House Memories, the sequel to The Beach House!

Autumn brings haunting beauty to the sun-soaked dunes on Isle of Palms, where Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge lives in her beloved Primrose Cottage. As the seasons change, Lovie remembers one special summer…

In 1974, America is changing, but Charleston remains eternally the same. When Lovie married aristocratic, well-connected businessman Stratton Rutledge, she turned over her fortune and fate to his control. But she refused to relinquish one thing: her family’s old seaside cottage. Precious summers with her children on the barrier island are Lovie’s refuge from social expectations and her overbearing husband’s philandering. Here, she is the “Turtle Lady,” tending the loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs in the warm night sand and then slip back into the sea.

Then, in the summer of ‘74, biologist Russell Bennett visits to research the loggerheads. Their shared interest brings them together, and soon it blooms into a passionate, profound love—forcing Lovie to face an agonizing decision. Stratton’s influence is far-reaching, and if she dares to dream beyond a summer affair, she risks losing her reputation, her wealth, even her children.

This emotional tale of a strong woman torn between duty and desire, between tradition and change, is an empowering journey through the seasons of self-discovery. Until this autumn, this time of winds and tides, of holding on and letting go…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439170946
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 04/09/2013
Series: Mary Alice Monroe's Beach House Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 385
Sales rank: 68,300
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at and at

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Beach House Memories includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In the summer of 1974, Olive “Lovie” Rutledge hosts a formal dinner party for her unappreciative husband in their lovely home in a privileged Charleston neighborhood. The following morning she takes her two children to Isle of Palms—a nearby barrier island off the coast of South Carolina where her family has a modest beach cottage. Behind closed doors, and exhausted from keeping up appearances, Lovie finds solace, happiness, and fulfillment at the beach. But when a handsome biologist arrives to research the status of nesting turtles—a project that is Lovie’s passion—she finds herself falling in love over the course of the summer, with devastating consequences.
This is an unforgettable tale of marriage, resilience, and one woman’s private strength.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. What are your first impressions of Lovie? Does she seem satisfied with her life and current situation?

2. Discuss the differences between the expectations of a woman/wife in 1974 when the story takes place, and today. Are there regional differences? How does Lovie’s expectations compare to your own?

3. Why do you think Lovie is so protective of her daughter when Stratton and Dee Dee both suggest Cara needs to learn better manners and be more ladylike? Have cotillions, debutante balls, etc. disappeared in your area? Or have they seen a renewed interest?

4. Lovie thinks of the beach house as returning “home,” where things felt, “constant, fixed, and reassuring.” Why does she feel this way about Primrose Cottage as compared to her house in Charleston?

5. Why do you think Lovie’s friend Flo never married? What is different about Flo and Lovie? How would a woman of Florence Prescott’s standards and values measure in today’s world?

6. Lovie draws parallels between her role as a woman and mother and the mother sea turtles that swim hundreds of miles to crawl onto shore and lay their eggs. What aspects offered Lovie strength and hope in her desperate moments? What other lessons can you point out that Lovie has learned from the sea turtles?

7. In Chapter Five, the mayor of Isle of Palms says at a community meeting, “There’s always a price to pay for progress...” Do you think that threatening the nests of the sea turtles was a price worth paying on Isle of Palms? What would you do if you were a citizen of such a community? Discuss what programs are in place in your community for conservation, recycling, etc while considering Russell Bennett’s comment that the issue was not local, but global.

8. Dr. Bennett offends Lovie in their first meeting by unintentionally belittling her interest in the sea turtles. How did his opinion of her change as he read further into her records?

9. What significance does signing the notebook at The Point have for Lovie, and for Cara?

10. Compare and contrast the relationship between the novel’s mother-daughter pairs: Cara and Lovie; Lovie and Dee Dee; and Flo and Miranda. What does each mother want for her daughter? What does each daughter want from her mother? Do you think the mothers and daughters, both in Beach House Memories and in your own experience, are doomed to repeat the same patterns in their relationships?

11. How were the issues of class, women’s rights, and spousal abuse handled in 1974 and how have things changed in modern times? What choices do women today have in cases of abuse? Do you think abuse against women crosses economic lines?

12. In chapter thirteen, Dr. Bennett says to Lovie: “That’s the magic of youth. They have complete and utter faith. They believe.” Do you think that the ability to have faith fades with age? Explain your answer.

13. Why does Lovie feel so compelled to continue her work with the sea turtles in years to come? How does her vocation complete, fulfill, and sustain her through the years? What do you think is a deeper meaning for Lovie?

14. Do you think Lovie makes the right choice in the end of the novel? Why or why not? What would you have done if you were in her position? Do you think she would have made the same decision if she were 39 in the year 2012?

15. Discuss how Lovie’s Sea Turtle Journal impacted her life. Do you keep a journal? If so, how does it impact your life?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Bring the novel’s setting to life by serving some good, old-fashioned Southern cooking. Consider what Lovie and Dr. Bennett had at their dinner on the island for inspiration. For more inspiration for meal ideas, visit

2. Learn more about marine life by visiting your local aquarium. Talk to experts like Dr. Bennett about what is being done to minimize the impact of development on marine life.

3. If you live near a beach or state park, go with your book club members to volunteer to help clean up for a day. Reflect on the passion that Lovie had for keeping the beaches safe and clean for the sea turtles. What did you and your book club members learn from your day of volunteering?

Customer Reviews

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Beach House Memories 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Trish97 More than 1 year ago
First I have to say that Mary Alice NEVER disappoints when she writes a book, she is truly one of my favorite authors! She can draw you into a story like no other! So many of us have waited so long to hear more of the story that started with "The Beach House" and "Swimming Lessons" and "Beach House Memories" was so worth the wait!! It is set in 1974 and it tells Lovie's story of that fateful year when she fell in love with Russell Bennett! Mary Alice's descriptive prose and beautiful writing makes you feel like you are right there experiencing everything that Lovie experiences. She is truly a gifted writer!! Get yourself a copy of "Beach House Memories" and be prepared to be totally entertained and moved by this story!!
Darlene28 More than 1 year ago
About 10 years I bought a paperback “The Beach House “to take to the beach. I didn’t know the author but I liked the cover. As I read the first few pages I fell in love with the writing of Mary Alice Monroe and a few pages more I fell in love with the book. It grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go. I’ve reread it many times and have had to replace that original copy because it was worn out and remains one of my very favorite books. What a thrill I had last year when I discovered Mary Alice was writing a prequel to The Beach House. Lucky me, I won a hardcover copy from First Reads! I was not disappointed. It took me right back to the beauty of Isle of Palms, the warmth of Primrose cottage, the strength of Lovie Rutledge “The Turtle Lady” and the wondrous story of the loggerhead turtles. I loved this book!!! This is really Lovie’s story as she is dying of cancer and in her last hours she thinks back to that memorable summer of 1974. I won’t tell you more of the story but I will tell you that this “Southern Fiction” will draw you in, maybe remind you of your childhood, a love you might have had or give you hope that things can be better or just something to dream about. You will not be disappointed.
A-the-Heart More than 1 year ago
From the very first page I was hooked. I love Mary Alice Monroe's ability to make you feel as though you are there and part of the story. Her descriptive writing allows you to see and feel exactly what the characters are experiencing. I could not put this book down. I read it in between all my daily tasks and I absolutely hated to see it end. I felt like I had to say goodbye to good friends not knowing if I would ever see them again. I hope she writes many more wonderful heart touching stories like this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Life I Lived Especially if you are a Southern woman, and/or interested in the Charleston area, I think you will enjoy this work by Mary Alice Monroe. She tells a story of one woman’s life, looking back through the years at how her life unfolded. The author certainly understands the culture of the South, and in particular, Charleston, at least at the time about which she wrote. I can’t speak for today. This book has to now be included in my list of favorite books, as well as Monroe one of my favorite authors. I am looking forward to reading more work by this author. I would recommend this book to more mature women, as those who are younger may not fully appreciate all its fullness.
EnnaTrebmal More than 1 year ago
If Mary Alice Monroe writes it, I read it!! This really got under my skin and into my heart. In 1972, I married and in 1991, we divorced. In between, I was that good Southern wife who believed in the act of putting on a good face in public because divorce was NOT an option in either family. I was never hit, but you can be affected in unseeable ways---ways that make that good public face easier to show. But, bruises are bruises---and I am sure we both bruised one another along the way. Luckily, we are now good friends again and our children came out the other side as successful adults. We will all carry the memories...and, hopefully, apply the lessons learned to void the mistakes made. This book showed me the other path I could have chosen if a special someone had shown up. Would I have??? Could I have??? I will never know, will I? Lovie's generous and gentle heart and spirit may have been bound up by tradition and appearances in 1974. But...that did not prevent her from rescuing other mothers...the mama sea turtles and thir precious progeny had the chance to live fully because of Lovie's efforts. Closed doors led to opened "sea" windows. I discussed the turtle lady books with my oldest child last summer. One day, I received a message from her on my phone which had no words, just a photo...of the lights out message for beach help the baby turtles head toward the ocean instead of "Ocean Drive"...our mama-daughter talk led to a wordless mama-daughter bonding as my child let me know she knew what mattered to me had taken on meaning for her as well.....all because of words in a book written by Mary Alice Monroe. Thank you, Mary Alice Monroe for giving this "dry land" mama the feeling that the wordless message from my daughter gave me. I lift my flipper in a salute to you...with love from a reader who has never seen a sea turtle.
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This is one of those books that will stay with me. You readers know what I'm talking about. I live near the beach and I only wish I could describe what that's like...the sunrises, the sunsets, the sea oates and yes, the sea turtles and nesting eloquently as Mary Alice Monroe does. When I finished this book, I felt like I had lost a friend. I don' t want to let this family go.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mary Alice Monroe has become one of my favorite authors.  I love the stories taking place in the Low Country.  This story has to be one of the best love stories I have read in quite some time.  Set in 1974, Olivia Rutledge reminisces  back to that wonderful, yet tragic summer.  This is a book not to miss.  Simply a wonderful and moving read.
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KamsProse More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this lovely book. It was a bit predictable but still very much worth the time to read. My only complaint is that the (spoiler) 20 year break in communication between Lovie and her Daughter was never explained... that drives me a bit crazy. Otherwise, I can forgive the other flaws and really had a great time reading this book. Pick t up!
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This book and the series is my favorite of all time. And I read a lot of books! I grew up in the South and married during the same years as this story. Mary Alice captured these decades perfectly. Her writing has a way of making you feel like you know these characters and you are part of the family. I have read every single book Mary Alice has written and I would give every one 5 stars. Keep writing, Mary Alice! I can't wait for the next one. Another awesome read I am sure.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book and loved The whole series!!!
Belle44 More than 1 year ago
Mary Alice Monroe has done it again. In this book she has filled in the blanks from her earlier Beach House. She tells the story of Lovie's "summer of love" that she onlyreferenced in the earlier book. With vivid descriptions of time and place she not only gives us "the rest of the story" but tells about the beginnings of the development of Isles of Palms. It is a wonderful read!