Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron

Last lessons of summer I found this book, “Last Lessons Of Summer,” by Margaret Maron at my favorite bookseller; my public library. The reason it caught my attention was, believe it or not, the dust jacket. It just looked interesting, an unoccupied retro chair, with a single lamp casting subtle light and shadow, over the empty space, as if someone should be there but wasn’t. This cover was designed by Diane Luger, who currently is the VP Executive Art Director at Grand Publishing.

For some reason it grabbed my attention, perhaps it was reminiscent of my younger years, and the furniture in my grandparents home.

Upon further examination, I saw that the author had won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for mystery writers, and she was called, “one of the most seamless southern writers since Margaret Mitchell,” by Publishers Weekly. There were also accolades by the New York Times, the San Diego Union Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune.  “Ms. Maron must be some kinda writer,”  I surmised, and opening the book I saw a small photo of the author, apparently taken by her husband, Joe Maron, who was an artist. She looks to be a very pleasant and friendly person.


I thought it was funny how artists seem to find each other, and when they do, both seem to thrive. I guess it’s because they understand one another and support each other.

Here is one of Joe Maron’s pieces, called “Dancing in the Dunes”:


I had to dig around a little to find it. You can see it along with several others on this website

Getting back to the “Last Days of Summer,” after finally deciding to gamble my $.25 to purchase this book in wonderful condition, I was not disappointed.  It was a very enjoyable book to read, just the right combination of mystery and romance, done very tastefully.

It’s the story of the demise of a grandmother, who was the head of a children’s publishing company, Pink and Blue and Max enterprises. and a grandaughter, who wants answers. It appeared that the death of the Frances Barbour benefited quite a few relatives. In order to settle her grandmother’s affairs, Amy Steadman, heir to this publishing empire, leaves New York to return to North Carolina, back to the home where she lived for many summers, and also where her mother, Maxie,  (the “Max” of Pink and Blue and Max Enterprises, ) had commited suicide when she was three years old.

As she reacquaints with her family of the past, answers begin to unfold, and the non-confrontational Amy finds herself dealing with newly uncovered and unexpected issues in her family, her marriage, and ultimately within herself.  This was a book I really enjoyed returning to each day, on my white plastic lunch bench, on the grounds at the company where  I work as an accounts receivable manager.  Mrs. Maron really was able to transport me from my day’s cares and concerns  into a true southern mystery. I am grateful.

Edgar Allen Poe, would have been proud!

“The Last Days of Summer” is 295 pages, and was published by Warner Books, copyright 2003. The language does tend to get a little rough for my taste, as I have always felt that certain words, could be left out of the literary world, with little impact on the whole. Not everyone shares my opinion, but other than this aspect, I was truly mesmerized by Margaret Maron’s work.

I suppose what meant most to me, was the issue of redemption in this work.  Just as the heroine Amy unfolds the answers to many of her life’s questions in this book, so have I been able to look back in my own life, and see how I have come to the place that I am today. Oh, sure I’ve pondered how I would go back and change many things if possible, but not if the result would lead me to any other present.  This whole novel is the story of  a search for truth. Perhaps, this is why it appealed so much to me. I think we are all searching for truth, that we might be made free of those things that hold us down, and keep us from being all that we were created to be by our Lord. The reason we were created is simply to contain Him, and as He is Truth, anything short of it will not accomplish our purpose for being.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (King James Version)

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

Isn’t that what we all want to be? A vessel unto honour, set apart for the Lord’s use? Then we must get rid of the untruth in our lives, in our beliefs, and the way we see the world.

Truth, when you find it will truly make you free.







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