Take a nod from Mary Kay Andrews’ latest beach read when it comes to staying hydrated, dressing the part and hitting the beach this summer.
The Weekenders opens on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, as main character Riley Griggs, her daughter Maggie, friend Parrish and several other mainlanders board the ferry for Belle Isle. An idyllic island off the coast of North Carolina, Belle Isle is home to quaint vacation homes, a country club, and summer activities including tennis, golf, shrimp boils on the beach and cookouts at the pool. The preferred mode of transportation is golf cart, and drink of choice is a cocktail in a plastic tumbler. As the characters attempt to sort out what happened to Riley’s husband, Wendell, and matriarch Evelyn Nolan tries to keep her family in line, there are plenty of life lessons to be learned along the way.
No. 1: Dress the part.
You can’t spend the summer at the beach without the proper attire. Riley’s brother, Billy, and his partner, Scott, blend their crisp whites with coral and turquoise, but mother Evelyn remains classic in linen slacks, stripes and a navy blazer. Evelyn is also always prepared for those breezy beach evenings by keeping a windbreaker in her golf cart storage bin.
His dark hair was close-cropped, and his hazel eyes looked almost green against his deeply bronzed skin. He wore a blue-and-white-striped boat-necked T-shirt tucked into white jeans with rolled-up cuffs and immaculate white espadrilles.” – Billy Nolan
No. 2: Ditch the car for a golf cart.
The only thing better than two wheels is four and, while Evelyn and her sister-in-law Roo do play golf, most people on Belle Isle use their golf carts to get to the beach or to and from the ferry. Riley also uses her mother’s cart for secret late-night missions as she investigates her husband Wendell’s shady business dealings.
The only motorized vehicles allowed on Belle Isle were emergency or service conveyances. Everybody else got around on golf carts.”
No. 3: Don’t turn on the oven.
Meals on Belle Isle are simple — boiled shrimp, lobster tails, prepared salads from The Mercantile store and dishes dropped off by neighbors, like Janice Snider’s chocolate delight. Besides, Evelyn Nolan isn’t a great cook and is just happy to have her family around the table on Sunday nights no matter what they’re eating.
Riley found a bowl of tomatoes from the garden on the kitchen counter and a plastic tub of pimento cheese from the Mercantile in the refrigerator. While Maggy dutifully pricked her finger to test her blood sugar and gave herself an insulin injection, Riley fixed a dinner of pimento cheese sandwiches and poured herself a large glass of wine.”
No. 4: Stay hydrated.
Riley deserves all the white wine she can get her hands on with all the drama in her life, but Bloody Marys are de rigeur for breakfast in The Weekenders, and lovable alcoholic Billy is never without his plastic tumbler of vodka tonic. It fits perfectly in his golf cart drink holder and who can prove it’s not water or Sprite?
No. 6: Always be prepared for a storm.
When the second named storm of the season forms over the Eastern Caribbean, the residents of Belle Isle fear another Hurricane Floyd. Talk of evacuation ensues, but Evelyn and Roo, who have lived through their share of storm warnings, remain calm.
“I have lived on this island all my life. Every year during hurricane season we get these alerts. And nothing ever pans out. We’ll do the smart thing. I’ll call my handyman and get him to come over and put up the storm shutters. I’ve got plenty of bottled water and flashlights and batteries and candles, and enough food in our freezer to feed most of this island.” – Evelyn
No. 7: Don’t forget to spend a day at the beach.
Riley gets so wrapped up in her own drama that she forgets to appreciate the beauty surrounding her on Belle Isle. Parrish finally drags her away for a much-needed day at the beach, complete with a pitcher of margaritas and plenty of sunscreen.
We haven’t been to the beach together all summer, and Fourth of July is next weekend,” Parrish said. “You can’t stay locked up inside forever. Come on, it’ll be fun. I packed the cooler with cold drinks and some snacks. We can park our chairs on the beach and take a walk and then come back and bust a chill.” – Parrish to Riley
The Weekenders is out now from Mary Kay Andrews and is one of our Summer Reading List picks. View the full list here.