Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin
This atmospheric novel focuses on a pivotal summer for eleven-year-old Marcus on a South Carolina barrier island, living with his artist aunt, helping guard a sea turtle nest, and becoming fascinated with a ruined cottage. Locally known as Grief Cottage, a family staying there may have died in a long ago hurricane. Charlotte frequently paints the cottage, and Marcus likes to visit it, wondering if it’s haunted. Having lost his best friend and his mother, Marcus is unsure if his eccentric, reclusive Aunt Charlotte really wants him to stay. He visits with an elderly neighbor and gets good advice from Charlotte’s friend Lachicotte Hayes when not riding his bike, checking on the turtle nest, and unpacking boxes and memories from his last apartment with his mother. Young Marcus is good company in this melancholy, leisurely read. A fairly lengthy epilogue makes for a satisfying resolution, tying up some loose ends on a hopeful note.
Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen
Imagine spending the whole month of August in a rambling cottage on an island off the coast of Maine. No cars allowed, cell phones rarely work, there are amazing views and trails, and cold water for swimming. There are blueberries to pick and sea glass to collect. Add in a hat party, a lobster bake, a tiny library, friendly islanders, a children’s musical that needs a director and you get a charming beach book, inspired by The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim. Two preschool moms, Lottie and Rose, leave their families behind in Brooklyn for a real escape, and are joined by actress Carolyn and Beverly, an older gay man in mourning who enjoys cooking. Lottie and Rose eventually welcome their families for a visit, and cottage owner Robert even comes to stay. The cottage and the island setting are lovingly detailed, and are a large part of this novel’s appeal. This is a pleasant summer read.