Book Review: Sunrise On The Battery

26 Oct

She wanted her husband to attend the town’s society-driven church. God answered her prayer in a radical way.

An emptiness dogs Mary Lynn Scoville. But it shouldn’t. After all, she’s achieved what few believed possible. Born in the rural south, she has reached the pinnacle of worldly success in Charleston, South Carolina. Married to a handsome real estate developer and mother to three accomplished daughters, Mary Lynn is one Debutante Society invitation away from truly having it all. And yet, it remains—an emptiness that no shopping trip, European vacation, or social calendar can fill.

While her husband commits social suicide and the life they worked so hard for crumbles around them, Mary Lynn wonders if their marriage can survive. Or if perhaps there really is a more abundant life that Jackson has discovered, richer than any she’s ever dreamed of.



Beth Webb Hart, a South Carolina native, holds a B.A. in English Literature from Hollins College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first novel, Grace at Low Tide, was one of three finalists for the 2006 Christy Awards in the general/contemporary/fiction category. She lectures on a variety of topics and has taught creative writing on the college and high school level where she received two national awards from Scholastic, Inc.  Beth Webb lives with her husband, composer Edward Hart, and their daughter in Charleston, South Carolina where she serves as a writer-in-residence at Ashley Hall.

My Impressions:

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (NLT)

Beth Webb Hart began writing Sunrise On The Battery with a question following the reading of David Platt’s book Radical — What would it look like if we were all in for Christ; loving God and people and not having any inhibitions about sharing our faith with others?  What followed was a complex look at a family who seemingly has it all — looks, money, accomplishments, and social status, but is lacking the one essential.

Jackson and Mary Lynn were deeply in love when they started out.  Through hard work and determination they have arrived at the top of Charleston  society.  They haven’t let the obstacles of their early life deter them from making it.  And now with an invitation to the South Carolina Debutante Society almost in their grasp, everything in their lives will be perfect.  Yet Mary Lynn longs for the closeness she once shared with Jackson.  She worries that their drive is impacting their 3 daughters negatively.  And she wants Jackson to share her love for God.  On a Christmas Eve, when miracles are celebrated and still occur, Mary Lynn prays for Jackson to know God.  That is the start of a transformation that turns Mary Lynn’s life upside down.

Hart explores the inner life of three members of the Scoville family — Jackson, Mary Lynn and their eldest daughter, Catherine.  What we find are dissatisfaction, fear, and insecurity.  In a family that outwardly has it all, they are really floundering; trying desperately to have it all and more, yet falling so short of the mark.  When Jackson reads and rereads the Bible and a number of books by Christian apologists, he knows he is ready to be all in.  Jackson never does anything by half, and his new found zeal looks to destroy all the family has built.

I found Sunrise On The Battery to be an authentic look at the American Dream and its pitfalls and temptations.  I came to care about the characters and what they were going through, especially Catherine.  And her depiction of Jackson’s transformation is at once funny and moving.  The novel will have you examining your own family dynamics, your search for success and what could be a life lived all in for God.

Highly Recommended.

(I received a copy of Sunrise On The Battery from The B&B Media Group in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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