Outer Banks

Outer Banks

by Anne Rivers Siddons

Paperback(First Perennial Edition)

$14.39 $15.99 Save 10% Current price is $14.39, Original price is $15.99. You Save 10%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Tuesday, November 20 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060538064
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/18/2008
Edition description: First Perennial Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 144,830
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.


Charleston, South Carolina and a summer home in Maine overlooking Penobscot Bay

Date of Birth:

January 9, 1936

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, Georgia


B.A., Auburn University, 1958; Atlanta School of Art, 1958

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

On the Outer Banks of North Carolina there is a legend about the ships that have come to grief in the great autumn storms off those hungry shoals. Over the centuries there have been many; the Banks have more than earned their reputation as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Most of the graves are in Diamond Shoals, just off the point of Cape Hatteras, but the entire hundred-odd-mile sweep of coast has devoured its measure of wood and flesh. Myths and spectres and apparitions he as thick as sea fog over the Banks, but the one that I have always remembered is the one Ginger Fowler told us all...Cecie, Fig, Paul Sibley, and me...the September of my last year in college, when we were visiting her between quarters.

"They say that whenever a ship is going to go down you can hear something like singing in the wind," she said. "Bankers say it's mermaids, calling the sailors. Lots of them claim to have heard it. It's not like wind or anything. They say when you hear it, you have no choice but to follow it, and you end up on the shoals. A few of the sailors who've been rescued swear to it."

We were sitting on the front veranda of the Fowlers' house on the dunes on Nag's Head beach, watching the twilight die over the Atlantic. On either side of us hulked the great, black-weathered, two- and three-story cottages that made up what the Bankers call the Unpainted Aristocracy -- along line of huge, weather-stained wooden summer houses that had been built in the early days of the century by the very rich. When they were first built, the houses reigned alone on that lordly line of dunes, owning by sheer forcemajeure the wild, empty beach. Now they are surrounded by flealike armies of bungalows and time-shares and fishing piers and umbrella and float rentals, like mastodons beset by pygmies. But even now, when you are on the front porches or verandas, you have no sense of the graceless, idiot hordes nibbling at their skirts. Only of wind and sun and emptiness, and the endless sea.

I remember that I felt a small frisson that might have been night wind on sunburned flesh, and reached for Paul's hand. He squeezed it, but did not turn to look at me. He was looking intently at Ginger's sweet, snub face, stained red by the sun setting behind us over Roanoke Sound and by the long, golden days in the sun. Autumn on the Outer Banks is purely a sorcerer's spell: so clear you can see each grain of sand on the great dunes, and bathed in a light that is indescribable. We had stayed on the beach from dawn to sunset for the past four days, and all of us wore the stigmata on our cheeks and shoulders. But Ginger was the red-brown of cast bronze all over. The freckles on her broad cheekbones had merged in a copper mask, and her eyelashes and tow head had whitened. She looked like a piece of Mayan statuary in her faded cotton bathing suit with the boy-cut legs, squat and abundant and solid as the earth.

I thought she looked almost perfectly a piece of the old house and the older coast, but in fact her father had only bought the house two summers before, from an imperious old widow who was going, most reluctantly, to live with her children in Wilmington. Before that Ginger had summered at Gulf Shores, on the Alabama coast, and lived with her family in a small north Alabama town called, appropriately, Fowler. It consisted of a huge textile mill, a mill village and store, and little else, all of which belonged to Ginger's father. The Fowlers; were newly, enormously, and to us, almost inconceivably rich. Ginger worked very hard to conceal the fact, and succeeded so well that until we went to visit her on the Outer Banks, and saw the house, we did not really comprehend it. Fig had told us when she proposed Ginger for sisterhood in Tri Omega that Ginger had a trust fund of her own approaching five million dollars; in those days that was a breathtaking sum of money. But since none of us paid much attention to what Fig said, we either forgot it or discounted it. In the end, Ginger became a Tri Omega because we all loved her. It was impossible not to. She was as gregarious, sweet-natured, and simple as a golden retriever.

"And," Cecie observed thoughtfully, "looks not unlike one."

On the darkening porch that night at Nag's Head, Paul smiled at Ginger and said, "Have you heard the mermaids singing, Ginger?" and the little cold breath on my nape and shoulders strengthened.

"God, no," she said. "It would scare the bejesus out of me. I hope I never do."

"I wish I could," he said, and then he did look at me, and squeezed my hand again. "That would be something to hear. I think that would be worth just about anything."

I actually shivered; it seemed to me as if the very air around us had weight and meaning, and every, whirling atom had particularity and portent. But I was so much in love with him by then that everything he said, everything we did, everything that surrounded us, our entire context, had resonance and purpose. Cecie looked at me and then at Paul, and said, "I think I'll go make some tea," and rose and padded into the house. I watched her out of sight, thinking once more how like a small, slender boy she looked in silhouette, wishing that she liked Paul better.

Outer Banks. Copyright © by Anne Rivers Siddons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide

"Friendships between women are very complicated things, and not necessarily sweet. But I think those earliest friendships are some of the most formative of our entire lives. At 18, we're such unfinished people. When you come back together later, everybody's battered, beaten up, kicked. We're profoundly different people, and we're often wounded adults. We found the capacity of those old friendships was to heal. It was not only a vacation for us. But most of us went away feeling a lot wholer, and in some ways comforted."
Plot Summary
On a Southern campus in the 1960's, four young, disparate women come together as sorority suite-mates and share a rare, powerful early friendship. There is Kate, with her elegance and grace; Cecie, the sensitive and sensible one; Ginger, the gorgeous, unbelievably rich girl who refuses to grow up; and Fig, the doting, diminutive, misshapen girl with the brilliant mind. As Fig watches from a distance, carefully noting everything down in her diary, Ginger embarks on a wild, scandalous life, and the bond between Kate and Cecie deepens. That bond is tested with the arrival on campus of Paul Sibley, a sexy and brilliant, half-Seminole architecture student. Kate and Paul fall hopelessly in love and begin planning for their future by designing their dream house; she doing the interior designing, and he the architecture. But when Kate moves to New York to begin their joint career, Paul writes to inform her that he is marrying Ginger instead. Plunged into agonizing despair, Kate rebounds into the arms of an affable Jewish architect, Alan Abrams, and, in her pain, breaks off all contact with her old sorority sisters. Twenty-eightyears later, Fig plans a reunion of the four women at Ginger's home at Nag's Head, North Carolina, the beautiful, weather-beaten house in which they all shared two idyllic spring breaks. Now the women return to recapture the exquisite magic of those early years and to share again the love, enthusiasm, passion and cruel betrayal that shaped them from girls into women. What they don't realize is that Fig, now a wildly successful novelist, has planned a very special surprise for her sisters; one that will irrevocably alter the rest of their lives.

Topics for Discussion
1. According to Ginger, "whenever a ship is going to go down you can hear something like singing in the wind. Bankers say it's mermaids calling the sailors . . . they say when you hear it, you have no choice but to follow it, and you end up on the shoals." What is the significance of this myth for Siddons' characters? Did any of them hear the mermaids singing, yet not "end up on the shoals?" If so, what saved them? Who are the mermaids in Kate's life?

2. Kate can't help but imagine her cancer cells as microscopic "Pacmen." How might this metaphor help her? How does it harm her? What is it that finally enables her to no longer fear the Pacmen? What does she mean when she thinks the Pacmen, "went with that other Kate, when she died on the Outer Banks?"

3. What does Kate mean when she refers to herself as an "abyss walker?" What is her abyss? Do you consider yourself one of the "non-abyss-people?" What role does her father's suicide play in Kate's understanding of her own abyss?

4. Kate muses, "how truly terrible, that it is easier to live a total lie, become a lie yourself, than assimilate to the hated truth." Which characters weave fictitious lives for themselves? And why? What is it that forces each of them to confront reality?

5. How are the four grown women who return to the Outer Banks different from the young sorority sisters they were 28 years ago? Which of them have been "battered, beaten up, kicked" by life the most? How so?

6. How would you characterize the different kinds of friendships and loves explored in Outer Banks? Which have the capacity to heal, and which to harm? Is it possible to have one without the other?

7. Why do you think this novel was set on the Outer Banks? What role does the sea play in these characters' lives? Why are they all drawn to the ocean? How relevant are the pirate and mermaid myths for these characters?

8. What is it about Dorothy Parker's poetry that so captivates the young Kate and Cecie? What is their relationship to her acerbic lines as they get older? Why do you think it changes?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Outer Banks 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
frizzleres More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Anne Rivers Siddons but this is one of my favorite summer books to read. I actually read this while in the Outer Banks with friends. As we traveled to Ocracoke for the day, I had my husband drive slowly through Hatteras as my friend and I looked for any trace of the Carolina Moon cottages! Once you begin the journey with these characters, hold on for the ride. The last few pages are action packed and really pull the whole character study/story together. A definite read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Siddons books never fail to provide hours of reading enjoyment. She doesn't disappoint with this one, engrossing characters and plot.
Melancholia More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful novel about friendship and its rewards and betrayals. A very satisfying read which makes you love and/or hate the characters. One of my all-time faves.
dablackwood on LibraryThing 3 days ago
This book was so predictable and almost boring in parts. I hate to admit to dear friends that I just didn't like it at all. Many people I know love this author and look forward to her latest book. I had somehow missed reading anything by her and now I know that I won't read anything else.Her characters, particularly Fig, Kate and Paul are stereotypes and seemed way too sure of themselves when they were in college. I never knew anyone who was so positive they knew the answers at that age. It's almost as if the author put her mature adult perceptions into her young characters and it just didn't work for me.
jedisluzer on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I just really like the characters in this one. But I'm also a sucker for a good college story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read! Not a one sit and finish the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not exactly the fluffy beach read I had anticipated, but worth the time anyhow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope that I can continue the promise I made to readers to share the# of pgs.I really have high hopes that we can help each other on this.I don't want this to sound like it's a critical thing that must be done.It's simple actually.unfortunately it can't be included in the overview and for now this would be the only solution.Thanks to all you folks. GRANNY B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Southern gothic...the female Pat Conroy...this book not as grrat as some of her others like Low Coumtry and Peachttre Road. But her imagery, particularly of beaches, always transports me. The endimg of this one was pretty weird.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LisaMarie1019 More than 1 year ago
This is the first Anne Rivers Siddons book I've read - at first, I felt as though the book dragged a bit, but once I got into the characters I wasn't able to put it down.  I thought her descriptions of her characters was fantastic.  The ending was a bit odd and didn't quite seem to fit with the rest of the book, but when I thought back on it I knew there was something weird going on there.  Overall, a great and enjoyable read.
May2013 More than 1 year ago
I've never read any books by Anne Rivers Siddons but thought I'd try this one since it got fairly good reviews and was only 99 cents for my Nook.  It's awful!  I got 17 pages in and just can't continue.  The writing is herky jerky and I can't follow the story or characters at all!  There seems to be no flow to it.  Maybe that gets better and I tried 3 times to continue reading it but it's not enjoyable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is snowclan? Dont order me to not post.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nope. Btw i hate you get out of my life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable read until the absurd ending. It was like the author ran out of time or ideas. What a let down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting story - did have the tendency to drag in spots - would've have given it 5 stars if I wasn't an Outer Banks native and very displeased with some of the descriptions of our island.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heather-n-Vito More than 1 year ago
Can be a bit wordy and overly descrptive but has a good twist at the end.
Patricia Mitchell More than 1 year ago
Reaf it whenn it first came out and then again this month! Enjoyedit just as much the second go round.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago