North Carolina meets Cape Cod in Erika Marks’ new book “The Guest House.”
by Erin Z. Bass
We’ll be chatting with Erika Marks via Twitter and giving away a copy of “The Guest House” this Friday, June 28, from 1-2 CST (2-3 EST). Join us using the hashtag #southernlit.
[blockquote style=”style-1″ icon=”none”]The Marshes were wash-ashores from North Carolina who’d partnered with a firm in Boston and found themselves smitten with the cape after their first visit five years earlier. – “The Guest House” by Erika Marks[/blockquote]
After last year’s “The Mermaid Collector,” North Carolina resident and native New Englander Erika Marks again returns to the East Coast for her summer read. Only this time, it’s infused with an old-money Southern family and a big family feud. For generations, the natives of Harrisport have watched wealthy summer families descend on their Cape Cod town, inhabiting the massive cottages along the town’s best stretches of beachfront. But when rich Southerner Tucker Moss breaks the heart of local girl Edie Wright in the summer of 1966, an enduring war starts between the two families that lasts for generations.
“You know, it’s funny, I never really think about the North versus South element,” says Marks. “It really was more me wanting to write a story that included my new home of Charlotte and of course, like in ‘Little Gale Gumbo,’ the dynamics that evolved from the contrast between Northern life and Southern life made for an interesting storyline for me to write from.”
The Moss family in “The Guest House” is from Charlotte and used to come to the cape every summer. Their shingle-style cottage is known by everyone in town and has been there for generations.
[blockquote style=”style-1″ icon=”none”]Like all kids who grew up in Harrisport, Lexi knew about the Moss house long before she’d ever seen it. Even if you’d never set foot on its lush and rolling back lawn (and why would you unless you’d been hired to mow it?), even if you’d never walked through its kitchen and caught a whiff of fresh-glazed pastries, you knew it was the house where the lavish display of fireworks blew up the sky every Fourth of July, rivaling Provincetown’s show year after year. – “The Guest House,” Chapter 2[/blockquote]
After Edie Wright’s daughter, Lexi, gets her heart broken by older brother Hudson Moss, she swears off the family just like her mother did. But who better to photograph the house for listing on the Historic Register than Lexi, who knows it like the back of her hand and just returned home from a graduate photography program in London. When Hudson’s younger brother, Cooper, calls her for the job, an unlikely attraction forms, and Lexi finds herself torn once again between passion and family loyalty.
“Having grown up in the North and now living in the South, I am continually observing and fascinated by the differences so I was excited to write this story from the two different perspectives and show that, at the end of it all, geography can’t dictate who we love,” says Marks. “The heart doesn’t give a hoot about geography – or any of the other differences we might think would keep us apart, such as economic class, which is also a big divider in ‘The Guest House.’ It’s the idea of love against all odds.”
Marks does a good job of reminding the reader throughout the book that these boys, with their Southern accents, charm and good looks, are hard to resist. Tamara Welch of blog Traveling With T says they remind her of the Kennedys, and there’s no doubt that Hudson, Cooper and their father, Tucker, have broken some hearts along the way.
[blockquote style=”style-1″ icon=”none”]Every girl in Harrisport knew about Hudson Moss, knew how handsome he was, how charming. High season always brought lots of attractive guys from away. “Boys of summer,” she and Kim had called them. Just like the Don Henley song that still lived in Dock’s jukebox. They were fun to look at and fantasize about, but Lexi knew better than to think she might have a chance with one. – “The Guest House,” Chapter 3[/blockquote]
“When it came to developing my Southern characters, I certainly looked to friends I have here in Charlotte, as well as my husband, and they gave me wonderful insight into certain vernaculars and sensibilities,” Marks says. “Having lived in North Carolina for years now, I feel very close to my neighbors so it felt very natural to build the Southern characters in this story.”
Will North and South be able to join forces in the name of true love? You’ll have to read “The Guest House” to find out.