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July 20, 2022

The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts 

"Off these shores, the Atlantic Ocean is greedy.  She swallows ships, goods, men and hungrily guards her treasures. Days, months, centuries can pass without a whisper of truth, and then smooth wares crackle, briny depths churn, and somewhere deep below the surface, a grip slackens and a secret is revealed." (p ix)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of southern fiction novel The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor
July 2022; Montlake; 978-1542032599
audio, ebook, print (363 pages); southern fiction

This dual timeline novel gives us Ruth's story in 1950 and her granddaughter Ivy's story in 2022 and they center around the Seaside Resort in Nags Head, North Carolina.  Both timelines are very interesting and well written and blended together perfectly.

1950 - Ruth is 12 years old and living in Nags Head.  Her parents own a small motel and she works hard to keep the rooms clean and the renters happy.  She's an only child and lonely but this summer, her 14-year-old cousin, Tally, has come from the mountains to help out at the Seaside Resort and they become friends.  That summer of 1950 was totally booked at the Seaside resort and even though Ruth and Tally work hard, they always found time for adventure.  This summer is different from previous years  - an old shipwreck appeared on the beach after a big storm.  Plus a beautiful singer, Carlotta comes to the hotel to be the entertainer for a few weeks.  

2022 - Ivy has returned to the Outer Banks after the death of her grandmother, Ruth.  Her plan is to clean out Ruth's house, sell the cottage and go back to New York.  She had lefts Nags head right after high school graduation and left behind her two best friends with no explanations of why she was leaving. They haven't forgiven her for leaving them and she knows that she'll need to face them. After a large storm, the same shipwreck is washed up on the beach and creates a lot of interest for people in the area.  As Ruth goes through her grandmother's piles of junk, she finds some gems that help her understand the mystery of her grandmother's early life.

Both Ruth and Ivy were braver and more tenacious than they realized.  They both spent their childhoods working at the Seaside Resort and they are both trying to uncover secrets from past generations.  Ruth wants to find out who her birth mother is and thinks it may be Carlotta.  Ivy wants to find out about her grandmother's life and finds that Ruth has left her some hints in the stacks of junk that she had in her home.  Ivy also has to contend with two old friends and a potential romance when she is forced to decide whether to go back to NYC or stay in the Outer Banks.

What can be better than a southern fiction novel to read while you are dreaming of a trip to the ocean?  Southern fiction is my favorite genre and somehow I missed Mary Ellen Taylor's books.  She's now on my list of favorite southern authors and I won't miss another one of her books in the future and plan to order some of her earlier books.  This book is full of secrets, family, lost friends, and missed opportunities over two generations of the same family.  If you enjoy a great book with likable characters, you don't want to miss this book!

(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for FREE)

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  You can connect with her on Facebook.

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