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The Last of Something | By Sara VanderClute

For years, my friend Rhenda, who grew up in Sanford, has been my hostess at the beach cottage that belonged to her family, down on Oak Island. Hardly a summer has gone by since the ‘80s that I haven’t been there, along with one or two other of our women friends, for lazy, female-centric days of sunbathing, wine-sipping, and the good-natured griping in which most wives and mothers occasionally indulge.

Some scenes in the book I’ve just read, “The Last of Something” are so reminiscent of those times at Oak Island. The author, Susan S. Kelly, deftly captures the ambience of the North Carolina beach and, more impressively, the mid-life malaise that can throw a woman’s life off balance more surprisingly than any ocean wave.

The author has a local connection of interest. Susan S. Kelly lives in Greensboro and is married to Sterling Kelly, a former Fayettevillian who is Robin Kelly’s brother and Rosalie Kelly’s son. Interesting as that is, it’s not why I recommend the book.

I couldn’t find a copy of “The Last of Something” locally, in early September, so I ordered it from Amazon. I hope it can be found here now because it is a very satisfying read, one that I believe women will especially enjoy. Written from the point of view of a forty-something, well-to-do but feeling not-so good woman, the book reveals how the main character, Shotsie, feels about her mother, her marriage and the malaise that afflicts her life. It also depicts the special relationship that can develop among women who have passed through several of life’s phases together. (The main characters in the book have been friends since college.)

I am not inclined to detail the story, but it’s a good one, with a kind of surprise at the end that the reader may not see coming. The threatening approach of a hurricane is the context for the story, and an effective metaphor for the damage that can be done to a cottage – or to human hearts – in the course of a week at the beach.

This is the third novel by Susan S. Kelly. Buy it, read it, hope for more to follow. Susan S. Kelly will be reading at the Cape Fear Regional Theater on the evening of November 6. Call the CFRT at 323-4234 for more details.