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Summary

Summary

Since the publication of Rubyfruit Jungle in 1973, Rita Mae Brown has been a major American literary voice and a best-selling author. In The Sand Castle , she revisits some of her most unforgettable characters: sisters Juts and Wheezie Hunsenmeir, and Juts's precocious young daughter, Nickel.

It's August, 1952, and seven-year-old Nickel sets off for a day at the seashore with her mother, aunt, and cousin Leroy. Everyone's excited when they reach Chesapeake Bay--everyone except for Leroy, who is recently motherless and frightened of the world around him. Nickel delights in tormenting her cousin, but, as the group lounges on the beach and begins work on a magnificent sand castle, the sisters try to coax him out of his shell by telling stories about their own childhood trips to the shore. But Nickel's taunting of Leroy escalates, and the family history between her mother and aunt rises to the surface--and then a crab bites Leroy, and they must all come together. Only years later can Nickel see that day for what it truly was--a life-changing lesson about family and the pleasure and heartbreak that comes with it.


Author Notes

Rita Mae Brown was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on November 28, 1944. She received an associate's degree from Broward Junior College in 1965, a B.A. in English and classics from New York University in 1968, a Cinematography Degree from the School of the Visual Arts in 1968, and a Ph.D. in English and political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in 1976. She was the writer-in-residence at the Women's Writing Center of Cazenovi College and a visiting instructor teaching fiction writing at the University of Virginia.

After publishing two books of poetry, she published her first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, in 1973. Her works include The Hand that Cradles the Rock, Sudden Death, Venus Envy, Loose Lips, and Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. She writes the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series and Foxhunting Mysteries series. She also writes screenplays and teleplays including Sweet Surrender, Room to Move, Table Dancing, and The Long Hot Summer. Her work on TV earned several Emmy nominations and she received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Variety Show in 1982 for I Love Liberty.

(Bowker Author Biography) Rita Mae Brown is the author of many novels, including "Outfoxed" & "Loose Lips". She & her collaborator, Sneaky Pie Brown, have written eight previous Mrs. Murphy mysteries, most recently "Pawing Through the Past".

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Brown's slim memory piece brings back some of her most beloved characters, sniping sisters Louise (Wheezie) and Julia (Juts) and the latter's seven-year-old daughter, precocious Nickel, who stands in for the young Rita Mae in what is no more and certainly no less than a long love letter to her family. Second cousin Leroy has recently lost his mother to cancer, so the trip to the water's edge at dawn is meant to assuage his pain and lighten his grief, though ants-in-her-pants Nickel gives him plenty of mischievous grief of a different kind. The four settle down to build an elaborate sand castle while the sisters start recalling their own childhood trips to the beach and wind up playing out their scrappy family script. The siblings scrap about religion, as usual, and righteous Wheezie drives away in outrage, only to return for the others in a little while again, as usual. A bizarre beach accident threatening eight-year-old Leroy's private part brings them all back together, with ice and towels, in an outpouring of love, loss, and tears in this sad, funny, always moving snapshot of a sort of love letter in the sand.--Scott, Whitney Copyright 2008 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Aside from the overpackaging (the inch-thick plastic clamshell case holds just two CDs), everything about this lean presentation fits nicely together. Marguerite Gavin's crisp, clean delivery moves the story along at a clipped pace; her voice is as clear and bright as the sunny day on Chesapeake Bay it describes. Creating a distinct aural character for each of the five family members in this story through accent and delivery seems effortless for Gavin. Particularly well done is her treatment of the seven-year-old Nickel, the main character of the story, and the older, reminiscing Nickel who narrates the tale. To the listener, she is obviously the same character, though her age and role in the presentation varies. A Grove hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 3). (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This short novel brings back the infamous Hunsenmeir sisters previously introduced to readers in Six of One (1978), Bingo (1988), and Loose Lips (1999). The plot focuses on a 1952 day's outing to the seashore with the sisters Wheezie and Juts; Juts's seven-year-old daughter, Nickel (who narrates); and Leroy, her eight-year-old cousin. As the day wears on, the sisters bicker, as do Nickel and Leroy, and the story culminates in an incident meant to illustrate the importance of family. Though affectionately told, the story is a little too thin to stand as a novella; at 103 pages, it's also too long for a short story and too short for a novel. It almost seems as though this might have been cut from a larger work. Brown has been revisiting the Hunsenmeirs about every ten years or so and may have thought it was time to put the sisters back in the limelight. Fans of the story line will likely be interested, but other readers may find the work lacking. Recommended for large public libraries only. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/08.]--Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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