We’ve got five copies of Beth’s new novel, MOON OVER EDISTO, up for grabs today. (Believe us, you want a copy of this one–Pat Conroy endorsed it.) Just leave a comment on this post to enter.
UPDATE: the winners for this giveaway are Nuala Reilly, Megan C, Blanche Diane, Karen, and Kerri. They have been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t forget to visit again soon.
What would be the most difficult thing to forgive? That was the question I was turning over in my mind like a lemon drop on the tongue when the idea for my new novel, Moon Over Edisto, materialized. The story is about a young woman, Julia Bennett, whose best friend from college has an affair with her father, and the ripples of this particular betrayal expand like this: Julia’s father divorces her mother, marries his young love, they have a family of their own before he dies very suddenly of a heart attack one morning while painting a landscape on their Edisto Island dock.
When the novel opens it’s nearly twenty years after the initial affair and Julia, who traded the southern gothic family dysfunction long ago for a life as an artist and art professor in Manhattan, finds her father’s widow – Marney – on her doorstep one night. Marney slowly divulges her outrageous request. She wants Julia to come home for the summer and take care of her three young children (Julia’s half-brothers and half-sisters who she’s never had contact with) because she has lung cancer and will need help as she recovers from massive surgery
So how is this story connected to my personal life? No, my father never had an affair with one of my friends (though I do actually have a friend who this happened to). But, I did experience betrayal at a very tender age – not the juicy kind – but certainly the slow burning insidious type consisting of verbal lashings, reckless decisions, acute temper flares, intimidation, fear of what might happen next. And it has taken me years and no small amount of counseling and prayer to work these painful memories and their impact on all of my subsequent relationships.
To spell out the particulars of what happened to me as a child and young adult would harm the process of forgiveness I’ve been undergoing with loved ones. However, that’s what makes story such a therapeutic place to confront this kind of injustice. Julia’s fury is my own fury, and the fury of anyone who has been unfairly treated or abandoned. Her grief was mine too. And her willingness – at last in the story – to acknowledge the intrinsic frailty and woundedness of those who hurt her most also belonged to me.
Like Julia and like the ones who hurt me when I was young, I’m a broken, flawed, weak human being living in a fallen world where I’m surrounded by others who share my affliction. I’ve been abused and forsaken, and I’ve done those things right back at the people I loved most, even the most innocent. Such is my condition, the human condition. Such is my need for someone to rescue me from myself and the world in which I have no choice but to live.
Julia finds a way through this, and she can’t help but falling in love with the half-brother and half-sisters who are – whether she likes it or not – her family. Love covers a multitude of sins. I know from personal experience, that this much is true.
Once, they were the happiest family under the sun, crabbing and fishing and painting on beautiful Edisto Island in South Carolina’s lowcountry.
Then everything went wrong, and twenty years later the Bennett family is still in pieces. Mary Ellen still struggles to understand why her picture-perfect marriage came apart. Daughter Meg keeps a death grip on her own family, controlling her relationships at a distance. And eldest daughter, Julia, left it all behind years ago, forging a whole new life as an artist and academic in Manhattan. She’s engaged to an art dealer and has no intentions of returning to Edisto. Ever.
Then an emergency forces Julia back to Edisto to care for her three young half-siblings. She grudgingly agrees to stay a week. But there’s something about Edisto that changes people. Can Julia and her fractured family somehow manage to come together again under that low-hanging Edisto moon?
“A rich, endearing, can’t-stop-reading book about what matters most, the power of love to transform the human heart.” —Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times best-selling author, Porch Lights
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.