I realize that I’m known for my commitment to the natural world through literature, which I love.  Thank you Pat Conroy for your recent flattering quote, "Mary Alice Monroe is the premiere nature writer among southern novelists”.  My home here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina is my inspiration.  Sea turtles, sweetgrass, birds of prey, monarchs, and now dolphins—each species played an integral part in several of my novels.  Yet, it’s important to note that while nature is the source of my inspiration for the novel, when I write a story, it’s always—first and foremost—about the characters.  Their lives, struggles, successes, failures, and epiphanies. 

Allow me to introduce you to the main characters--the Muir family--in my upcoming novel, THE SUMMER GIRLS.  The Muirs are a colorful bunch, descendants from a pirate!  It's the first book of THE LOWCOUNTRY SUMMER TRILOGY and in each book, a different woman will be focused on.  As an added fun tidbit, I've matched each character with the actor I envisioned as I wrote the book!

In stores June 25. Pre-order today.
Marietta ‘Mamaw’ Muir:  A grand dame in the Charleston society and a dowager, she moved from her home on East Bay in Charleston to live full-time at the family’s longtime Sullivan’s Island home, Sea Breeze.  If you are a Downton Abbey television series fan, like I am, Mamaw is a Maggie Smith kind of character.  She’s a bit haughty and makes pithy statements that everyone loves to hear!  Yet Mamaw is strong, even fearless, when it comes to her granddaughters--Eudora, Carson, and Harper--her "summer girls."  Mamaw has lived long enough to realize that she failed her only child, Parker, by enabling him.  Now, she strives not to manipulate her granddaughters. Rather, her desire is to restore the shattered ties among the three young women.  After all, they are her only remaining family.   Mamaw fears that when it's her turn to join the majority, the Muir family bonds will fray.

*Actress:  Maggie Smith in personality, but I see Ellen Burstyn.

Carson:  Considered Mamaw’s favorite by her other sisters, Carson is an athletic, beautiful, dark haired woman working in Los Angeles as a stills photographer for a TV series.  To her sisters, she appears to have it all.  Little do they know she'd survived a hand-to-mouth existence with their alcoholic father.  Her traumatic childhood caused attachment difficulties.  At the story's opening, Carson has no job and hardly two coins to rub together.  Carson was born to be on the water.  Her life is changed after an encounter with a charismatic wild dolphin.  A miraculous bond is formed between Carson and the dolphin, which she names Delphine.

* Actress:  Megan Fox

Eudora:  Better known as ‘Dora’, this once southern belle has been overwhelmed by her son’s needs and demands as a child with autism.   Dora has let herself go—neglecting her looks, personal needs, interests, and her marriage.   She is lost and bitter at the way her life has turned out after following all "the rules." With a divorce pending, Dora is forced to sell her home and start over.  All that Dora feels she has left in this world is her one and only child, Nate, and she clings to him.

*Actress:  A heavier Wendy McLendon-Covey

Harper:  The youngest and most petite of the sisters, Harper is reserved, even aloof--except when she drinks!  Harper grew up in New York and lived a privileged lifestyle. Yet she was emotionally neglected by her successful British mother, Georgiana.  At 28, Harper still lives at home and works as an assistant to her mother, an executive editor at a major New York publishing company.  Harper describes her mother as the Meryl Streep character in the film ‘Devil Wears Prada.’   Harper does not engage with humans. Rather, she is connected to the internet.  She's always on her smartphone, tablet or computer.   Nicknamed "the mouse" as a child, she still prefers to sit in a corner and watch the world from a safe distance.

*Actress:  Amanda Seyfried

Nate:  Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, nine year old Nate has an inability to communicate and connect with others, especially his mother Dora.  Nate is a very bright child whose world is opened up upon his first encounter with Delphine, the wild dolphin. 

Parker:  Deceased son of Mamaw, her only child, was handsome, debonair, and witty.  Yet in the end, the golden child was a disappointment in every department—relationships, fatherhood and career.  A wannabe writer, Parker rested on the laurels of his successful ancestors and depended on the handouts from his parents.  Parker named his daughters after successful writers--Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty and Harper Lee.  His alcoholism eventually led to his untimely death. 

Lucille:  First hired as the Muir’s family maid fifty years ago, Lucille is more a companion to Marietta Muir than a maid.  “Compact and stout as a well-fed marsh hen”, she is a trusted confidante of Marietta and unquestionably loyal in return.  Lucille is the one person who knows everything about the family, maybe even too much.  She’s a “call ‘em as I see ‘em” kind of person, honest, witty and wise, and always ready with a wry comment.

Blake: He’s a lifelong Lowcountry boy, devoted nature lover who knows the rivers and winding creeks as well as he knows himself.  His job as a biologist with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sparks the attention of Carson.  Blake befriends Carson through the promise of kiteboarding lessons and eventually opens her up to the world of wild dolphins. And here’s a fun tidbit for fans of my novel SWIMMING LESSONS—Blake is the cousin of Ethan Legare who works at the South Carolina Aquarium and is the character who falls in love with the book’s protagonist, Toy Sooner.  The pair makes an appearance in THE SUMMER GIRLS, and in chapter 13 you’ll see what these characters are up to today!

Want to know more about the characters? Watch this video. And visit my YouTube Channel to see more.

Will this dysfunctional family be able to heal old wounds and bond together?  Will these disparate sisters rediscover that unabashed love they once shared as children? Can a single wild dolphin be the catalyst needed to help them all communicate?  Or will Mamaw’s ultimatum of one entire summer together at Sea Breeze be too much, too late? 

Find out June 25th.


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All the best,
Mary Alice