The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

by Mary Alice Monroe

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Get swept up again in this heartfelt family drama from New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe.

They are the Season sisters, bound by blood, driven apart by a tragedy. Now they are about to embark on a bittersweet journey into the unknown—an odyssey of promise and forgiveness, of loss and rediscovery.

Jillian, Beatrice and Rose have gathered for the funeral of their younger sister, Meredith. Her death, and the legacy she leaves them, will trigger a cross-country journey in search of a stranger with the power to mend their shattered lives. As the emotions of the past reverberate into the present, Jillian, Beatrice and Rose search for the girls they once were, in hopes of finding what they really lost: the women they were meant to be.

Originally published in 2001

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488038150
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 08/13/2018
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 16,720
File size: 646 KB

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her books have received numerous awards, including the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, Florida Distinguished Author Award, SC Book Festival Award, and the International Fiction Award for Green Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her at and on Facebook.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Rose Season stood at the threshold of her sister's bedroom and silently watched the shadows of an oncoming storm stretch like plum-colored talons across the empty bed. A great gust of icy wind from Lake Michigan howled at the windows.

    "Merry," she whispered with longing. Rose resisted the urge to open the window and call out to her in the vast darkness. Merry's presence was palpable tonight. Rose had read somewhere that the spirit lingered for three days after death. Merry had been dead for four. Did she tarry to be sure her last request was honored?

    Her last request Why had she agreed to it? Rose asked herself, wringing her hands. The request was crazy, intrusive, maybe even hurtful. No one would ever go along with it. What would her sisters do when they read Merry's letter? Especially Jilly. She'd never spoken of that time, not once in over twenty-five years. It was as though it had never happened. She'll be furious, Rose worried. But secrets in families always had a way of coming out in the end, didn't they?

    The hall clock chimed the hour. Rose tilted her head, thinking to herself that she should be calling Merry for dinner now, telling her to wash up. A pang of loneliness howled through her like the wind outside. She wandered into Merry's lavender room, idly running her fingers along the girlish white dresser, the dainty vanity table and the silver-plated brush, comb and mirror set. Strawberry-blond hairs still clung to the bristles. Across the room, she bent to pick up the ratty red-haired baby doll lying in the center of the pristine four-posterbed.How Merry had loved the baby doll. Spring, she'd called it, and never once in twenty-six years slept without it. Rose brought the doll to her cheek, catching Merry's scent still lingering in the fabric. Then, with a loving pat, she placed the doll back on the bed, careful to prop it against the pillow. Rose's hands felt uncomfortably idle: She smoothed the wrinkles from the comforter with agitated strokes, then moved to the bedside stand to straighten the lace doily, adjust the pleated lampshade and line up the many small bottles of prescription drugs that she was so familiar with. She couldn't part with anything of Merry's yet, not even these useless medicines.

    Without Merry to take care of, she felt so useless and detached in the old house, like the shell of a cicada clinging worthlessly to the bark. She needed work to keep her going, some focus to draw her attention from her mourning. With a discipline that was the backbone of her nature, Rose walked swiftly from the gloomy bedroom to the wide, curving staircase of the old Victorian that had been her home since she was born.

    The walls along the stairs were covered with dozens of photographs of the Season sisters at various moments of glory and achievement in their lives. For comfort, she glanced at the familiar photographs, treasuring the faces captured in them: Jilly, Birdie, Rose and Merry. The Four Seasons? their father had called them. The largest numbers of photographs were of Jilly and Birdie, the eldest two. There were fewer pictures of Rose, and hardly any of Merry, the baby. She longed for her sisters; it had been nearly ten years since they had all been together. How sad that it took a funeral to bring them together again.

    Who would arrive home first? she wondered. Birdie was extremely busy with her medical practice in Wisconsin, but Jilly had the farthest to come—all the way from France.

    Rose paused at a framed 1978 Paris Vogue magazine cover that showcased a young Jillian at twenty-one years of age, looking sex-kittenish in a fabulous pink gown that clashed in a chic way with her vibrant red hair. It was her first cover. Rose studied her eldest sister's full red lips pursed in an innocent pout, her deep-set eyes of emerald-green and the come-hither pose exposing one long, shimmering leg that seemed to go on forever. She couldn't imagine herself ever standing in front of so many people, in the glare of the lights, while men snapped her photograph. For that matter, Rose couldn't imagine ever looking so seductive or desirable.

    Jilly was born at 12:01 a.m. on November 1, 1955. All Souls' Day. Mother always told of how she'd squeezed herself shut because she didn't want a child of hers born on Halloween. Who knew what nickname father would have chosen then? Their father, William, claimed it was a family tradition to play with their unusual last name. After all, he was nicknamed Bill Season, But their mother, Ann, a petite beauty with a will of iron, swore no child of hers was going to be tagged for life with a name people laughed at. As a compromise, Ann Season gave her daughters strong, sensible names, allowing their father full rein with the nicknames. Thus for his first daughter, Jillian, born in a Chicago autumn, he thought himself clever to name her "Jilly Season."

    Moving down the stairs, Rose perused the large collection of photographs of Beatrice. Jilly liked to be first, but in most things Birdie came through for the prize. "The early bird catches the worm," their father used to say with a wink of pride at his second daughter. Birdie was his favorite, everyone knew that. Jilly would tease her and say Birdie was the son he never had. She was a tall, broad-shouldered girl with a powerful intellect and an even more powerful, competitive spirit. Even the name "Birdie" seemed to mock her tomboyish body.

    Bill Season had chosen the nickname because she was born in early summer and was insatiable, howling for more food like a hungry bird in the nest. And she'd certainly caught the worms, Rose thought as her gaze wandered over the photographs. The first was Birdie at sixteen, learning into the camera, dripping wet and clutching an enormous silver trophy for the state championship swimming team. She'd been the captain, of course. And there were more photographs, of Birdie as class valedictorian, of Birdie winning trophies for swimming, lacrosse and the science fair. Birdie receiving a diploma from medical school. Birdie dazzling in white lace and tulle smiling at her handsome groom, Dennis, the biggest trophy of all.

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The Four Seasons 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fun and quick book to read about sisters and secrets, but reader, I have to say that the love scene in this book is pretty darned good. After reading this book, you won't think of ratty motels in the same manner. This is some road trip of a read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am delighted to be able to write a review for a book that truly captured my heart. I found myself identifying with different aspects of each character......and the memories of my childhood came flooding forth. Such a moving story; the pages turned too quickly. The 'looking back' required to write and read this book is challenging and poignant. Everyone who is interested in famiy dynamics and women's relationships with the important people in her life should read this book. The resolution is realistic as well as life affirming. I wanted to be there with the sisters and come to grips with some of my own stories. Bravo Mary Alice Monroe for giving me a window to look at life's events from a different point of view.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I was paying for a couple of things at this garage sale the lady said I would love this book.Come to thlnk of it this was the last paper back I purchased.My husband surprised me with this Nook and the Trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey,what a diff.I would say I enjoyed readingFour Seasons much more hands down.Really,don't pass on this one ya'll (: I can't think of one MAM'S books that I didn 't enjoy and truely think I bought them all.I do have to say that my husband regrets ever buying my Nook.I'm so glad that it was him and not me that purchased it.I'm certain you will love your read and there's many authors that stem off of MAM that I'm sure ya'll will enjoy.I'm just turning into a"SOUTHERN BELL"hopefully not a divorced one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read alot of books that delve into the bonds between women. Monroe always gets right to the heart. I loved 'The Book Club', and 'The Four Seasons' is just as rewarding. I can't wait til her next. Hurry up!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Evanston, Illinois, three of the four Seasons siblings are coming home to attend the funeral of their youngest sister Merry. Only thirty-two, Merry died when her lungs finally failed after a long period of illness. The oldest of the sisters, Jilly flies in from France where her career as a model is just about over. Birdie, accompanied by her spouse and teenage daughter, drives down from Wisconsin. Rose, being Merry¿s caretaker over the years, waits for the arrival of her two sisters.

After the funeral ends, the family attorney announces the will, which is standard stuff until he gives the siblings a video and a letter from Merry, who was brain damaged in an accident many years ago. In both, Merry pleads with her siblings to bring home Spring, the daughter that Jilly gave up for adoption when she was a teen. The trio reacts differently to Merry¿s deathbed request, but in the end blood proves thicker than water and an odyssey to ¿return home¿ by finding Spring begins.

THE FOUR SEASONS is a deep contemporary relationship drama that showcases the personalities of four siblings. The story line is loaded with emotion as each of the three surviving Seasons cope with Merry¿s death and her request in their own way. With novels like this one and THE BOOK CLUB, Mary Alice Monroe continues to be one of the leaders of complex female relationship dramas that hit home to the audience.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story of love and forgiveness that defines family .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LesaHolstine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Outstanding novel. When the youngest of the four Season sisters dies, she sets the others on a quest for a missing family member. Each woman is an individual. Very good!
lahochstetler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel tells the story of the four Season sisters . When they gather for youngest sister Merry's funeral they are presented with the chance to confront a family secret that has festered for nearly thirty years. As they gather for the funeral each of the Season sisters is awash in her own problems. Investigating an old family secret gives them the opportunity to face their own demons, as well as to fulfill Merry's dying wish. If the plot sounds a bit hackneyed, that's because it is. The plot is entirely predictable. At no point was I surprised, and I saw the end coming from a mile away. The writing is also clunky. The prose is littered with excess detail, which serves no real purpose. Ultimately this book was far too predictable and sentimental to be enjoyable.
ccain512 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A tale of the four Season sisters. Definitely delves into family dynamics, but was also predictable. Easy read.
dianaleez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Four Seasons was my first novel by Mary Alice Monroe. It's the story of the four Season sisters: Jillian, Beatrice, Rose, and Meredith. The novel opens when the sisters reunite for Merry's funeral, and it takes its shape from her final request - that they find the child, now an adult, that one of them gave up for adoption as a teen. I confess that I didn't find anything unique or particularly interesting here. Her theme seems to be the effect of the past on the present and the necessity to break down walls and 'share.' I felt rather battered over the head by her heavy handed didacticism by the time I finished the novel, but at least I did finish it. I suppose my verdict is 'so/so.'
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FlowerPowerLE More than 1 year ago
These sisters, who had drifted apart, each, with their own issues come together when the youngest sister passes away. They go on a journey, and not only learn about one another, but also, about themselves. Don't miss it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly one of the best reads I have ever read....just when I thought things couldn't get any worse for these sisters, BANG! another bump in the road......and those bumps in the road kept me reading on and on and on till late in the night!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was moved by the very real relationships between the four sisters in this novel. The tug of love and anger was well drawn, and the plot of the birth mother's search for her child was a beautiful parallel for the sisters' search for the children (hope and dreams) that they once were. I highly recommend it for sisters everywhere--or for anyone who wished they had a sister!