The Beach House

Aubrey Brown


This touching story of a mother's desire to reconnect with her daughter brings to light the difficult decisions that mothers often have to make to protect their children. These brave decisions that are made, however, often go unnoticed and sometimes put relationships in jeopardy of being lost forever. In this novel, the power of words, honesty, and understanding help bring together an estranged mother and daughter. In reconnecting this duo, life's most precious lessons are discovered and one of the most treasurable relationships is unearthed.
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The Beach House, written by Mary Alice Monroe, was originally published in 2002. This novel represents the time period in which it was written during a summer on the Isle of Palms in Carolina Lowcountry. There are several mothers and mother-figures in this novel that can be examined, and each one shows the complications and delicacies of motherhood. The most prominent mother in The Beach House is Olivia Rutledge, known as Lovie to those close to her. Lovie is seen throughout the novel as a mother not only to her two children, but also a mother figure to her houseguest Toy, her friends, the Turtle Team, and to the hatchlings that mother loggerheads lay on her stretch of the beach. The Beach House portrays mother figures in an overall positive light, but it also explores the complications that arise and the not-so-glamorous parts of motherhood as well as how decisions made can either build and strengthen a bond or could falter and undermine a bond.

A Treasurable Bond

This story follows the two Rutledge women, Lovie and her daughter Cara, as they try to repair and reconnect the bond that has long since been damaged. When the story begins, the two have a strained relationship, a “silent truce”, but as the story and the characters grow, the complexities of motherhood begin to surface. Since Cara had been a young girl, she blamed her mother for being weak and subservient and allowing her husband to be verbally abusive, and eventually physical towards Cara, and making the family’s life at home miserable and damaging throughout her childhood. The resentment that Cara held towards her mother grew with age and she left home eighteen, not to return until her mother asked more than twenty years later. With death at her heels, Lovie knew that she had to make peace with her daughter. Throughout the summer, Lovie and Cara began to understand that to make amends, they had to be open, honest, straightforward, and understanding of one another. Even as their relationship grew, tensions still arose between the two. When Lovie saw the hurt and anguish and hate that she had caused her daughter, she fully opened up to her. Lovie explained to Cara what her life was like as a mother in her time, about her life outside of the home and how the decisions she made in that separate life affected her life at home. Once Cara understood the difficult decisions that Lovie made, and the even more difficult consequences she had to deal with, Cara began to realize that what she thought of her mother had been entirely wrong. While Cara thought her mother was being selfish and weak, she had actually been protecting a truth that would destroy her family. With all secrets out in the open, Cara finally understood her mother and was able to forgive her. Lovie’s never-ending protection and love for her daughter shone through and allowed Cara to forgive her mother and grow closer with her.

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There is a reason her name is Lovie...

The relationships that were presented throughout the novel displayed Lovie’s numerous qualities that made her a fantastic mother and mother-figure. Lovie was a nurturing, gentle, supportive, protective, strong, determined, selfless, brave woman. She did everything in her power to help all of those around her and make them feel important and loved. She often gave tough love to guide a person in the right direction. She always had other’s best interests at heart. Her unconditional love and support for all those around her made her the central mother character for all in this novel. Her acceptance of every person and her forgiveness of their past mistakes displayed her compassion for those she cared about and her unconditional love. She never turned her back on anyone or anything that she cared about. Even on the verge of death in the start of a hurricane, Lovie put the needs of others in front of her own. There is a reason that Olivia Rutledge was known by “Lovie”.

Quotes from the Novel

"Please, Lord, answer this one small prayer. Not just for me, but for Cara. Help me play with my child once more before I die. Bring my Cara home."

"'You don't have to say thank you. I'm your mother. It's my job. My pleasure.'"

"'Don't let anyone or any thing hold you captive from finding your heart's desire.'

'Oh, Mama... How will I know what that is?'

She cupped her daughter's face, and in the woman, saw the little girl. 'You'll know, my precious. One day you'll look up and see it -- and just know.'"

"There was an ebb and flow with the pain of loss. Yet as Cara slept in her mother's room, in her high bed, sometimes she could sense her mother's presence floating in the soft breezes that caressed her brow."