A breathtaking and lyrical tale unfolds as we meet, in turn, two female characters: Julie Holt, a New Yorker and native of Massachusetts and Aimee Guidry, maternal “great-grandmother” of Julie’s best friend Monica Guidry.

After Monica’s death, Julie takes Monica’s son Beau back to Biloxi, to the beachfront property left to them in Monica’s will. What Julie finds, however, is a storm-ravaged home (Katrina) and dead beach trees. Her journey next leads her to the home of Ray Von Williams, who gives her a mysterious package and directs her to New Orleans and to Aimee.

As the relationships between the characters are revealed over the following pages, we learn the stories of the two women, told in first person narration by each of them. Aimee’s story begins in the 1950s and details the pre-and post-Hurricane Camille years, while Julie’s shows us the mysterious loss of her sister Chelsea during their childhood.

As a backdrop to the family stories, we watch as Julie, in partnership with Monica’s brother Trey, who shares ownership of the beach cottage, take on its restoration and gradually begin to trust and even like each other. Will a romantic connection develop here?

What the tales of the women reveal about their families, the secrets they carry, and the mysterious connections between them is the backbone of The Beach Trees: a tale told with beautiful language, poignant themes of loss and reconnecting, and the gradual unfolding of the mysteries of the past that underscore its timeliness. The lively and very real and flawed characters are reminders that, in the face of great destruction, people can begin again.

Five stars.

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