Publisher: Crown Publishing (June 8, 2010)
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Paperback (291 pages)
As the wounds of the Civil War are just beginning to heal, one fateful summer would forever alter the course of a young girl’s life.
In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does.
But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby’s father’s Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.
With vivid historical detail and stunning emotional resonance, Diann Ducharme recounts a dramatic story of love, loss, and coming of age at a singular and rapidly changing time in one of America’s most beautiful and storied communities.
Read the “Lost” Chapter of The Outer Banks House
Buy, read, and discuss The Outer Banks House
Diann was born in Indiana in 1971, but she spent the majority of her childhood in Newport News, Virginia. She majored in English literature at the University of Virginia, but she never wrote creatively until, after the birth of her second child in 2003, she sat down to write The Outer Banks House. She soon followed up with her second book, Chasing Eternity, and in 2015 the sequel to her first novel, Return to the Outer Banks House.
Diann has vacationed on the Outer Banks since the age of three. She even married her husband of 10 years, Sean Ducharme, in Duck, North Carolina, immediately after a stubborn Hurricane Bonnie churned through the Outer Banks. Conveniently, the family beach house in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina provided shelter while she conducted research for her historical fiction novels.
She has three beach-loving children and a border collie named Toby, who enjoys his sprints along the shore. The family lives in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, counting down the months until summer.
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While I’ve never been to either of the Carolinas (both are on my bucket list, I swear) I did have a blissful childhood full of summers at the Jersey Shore, so I know the pleasures – and the pain – of living on the Atlantic seaboard, and I even have some experience with the special geography of barrier islands, which constantly change shape and size, depending on the will and whim of the wind and sea. Diann Ducharme’s books The Outer Banks House and Return to the Outer Banks House were obvious choices for me.
As I didn’t receive the books until Thursday, May 28th, was at Dallas Fan-Expo Friday-Sunday, and came home (as I always do) with “con crud,” this review will be only of the first book. Come back next Friday, June 12th for my review of the sequel.
From the opening scene where Abigail, who has been ‘boatsick’ for days, runs down a pier and onto the beach, fighting against her hoopskirts the whole time (and, can we pause a moment to imagine running anywhere in hoops, let alone in sand?) to the last scene where Abigail and her scruffy Ben decide that love is worth the risk, I was swept away by this novel. The post-Civil War period is one I haven’t explored recently, but I had enough context to appreciate the subtle political and personal intricacies of having relatives and friends who worked for or against the KKK. We are so used to seeing Klan stories set in the 1950s and ’60s, that to experience that awful organization from the other end lent perspective in many ways.
Also fascinating was the way these inland-bred characters learned to cope with life on the shore. The pattern of people’s days is different when you live so closely tied to the sea, with different rhythms and different risks.
Add to that a burgeoning love affair, and what you have – what Ducharme has so brilliantly created – is a rich tapestry of people and places, politics and professions, and perspective.
Ducharme’s dialogue, while accurate for the period, never feels stilted, and flows as easily as any contemporary language. Her descriptions are vivid – I could taste the salt in the air, and feel the sand between my toes – and her characters feels as though they could walk out of the pages and join you for a cold glass of lemonade and a chat about the latest novel you’ve read. Abigail, especially, surprised me, because she was so smart, so fierce in her love and loyalty, and so much her own person, in a time when women were often…not.
While I wouldn’t really classify The Outer Banks House as a “beach read,” – it’s a bit meatier than that – it’s still the perfect novel for a lazy summer afternoon.
Goes well with seafood salad and cold lemonade, preferably served al fresco.
Monday, May 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, May 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, May 27
Review (Book One) at Back Porchervations
Thursday, May 28
Review (Book One) at In a Minute
Saturday, May 30
Spotlight at Becky on Books
Sunday, May 31
Review (Book One) at Book Nerd
Tuesday, June 2
Review (Book One) at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, June 3
Review (Book Two) at Back Porchervations
Thursday, June 4
Spotlight & Giveaway (Book One) at View from the Birdhouse
Friday, June 5
Review (Both Books) at Bibliotica
Sunday, June 7
Review (Book One) at Carole’s Ramblings
Tuesday, June 9
Review & Giveaway (Book One) at A Literary Vacation
Friday, June 12
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Sunday, June 14
Review (Book Two) at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, June 15
Review & Giveaway (Both Books) at Genre Queen
Wednesday, June 17
Review (Both Books) at Luxury Reading