Chambers has released a reissue of The Chinaberry Album and its sequel, Heat Lightning, a post World War II novel that returns to Bay Harbor and to events that change the protagonist's life. Chambers had the pleasure of launching her books — one reissued, one new — at the 100th birthday celebration of her beloved Port St. Joe. She is currently working on the third novel in the Bay Harbor Trilogy, Receding Tide.
The Chinaberry Album
The first book in the Bay Harbor Trilogy, The Chinaberry Album tells a genteel coming of age story set during World War II in a once-sleepy town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Anna Lee Owens, the young daughter of a deputy sheriff, begins to realize that there are disturbing secrets in her family, that her quiet hometown runs by unspoken rules, and that often the smartest thing to do is to listen to your instincts. Read an excerpt here.
“In this first novel, Anna Lee's narration is usually true to her age... however, Ruth Coe Chambers uses Anna Lee's point of view artfully as she explores the terror of growing up in a world full of conflicting rules and values. When Chester nearly rapes the girl, and everyone believes his version of the story, Anna Lee's protective silence turns to actual muteness.... But by then Anna Lee and her loved ones have inspired enough affection that even the most pragmatic reader couldn't wish for any other ending.”
— Katherine Burkett, New York Times Book Review
Heat Lightening is the second book in the Bay Harbor Trilogy. Bay Harbor wasn’t a picture postcard town. The war was an awkward memory, its trenches returning some to the small Florida gulfport, though not the men they used to be. What Bay Harbor’s residents hadn’t expected was the change and tragedy the soldiers would bring home. No one loved Bay Harbor more than twelve year old Anna Lee Owens, daughter of the deputy sheriff. A livewire too observant of Bay Harbor’s secrets, she indulged in death tours, dreamed of lighthouses, and worshiped the tragic Tyler Rose. She played rascal with Tyler’s cousin T. J. at his father’s funeral home, and longed for the grace of the mercurial Lola. Among the tide of soldiers and unexpected travellers, Anna Lee’s youth teeters precariously; Hilton Fields returns to Bay Harbor. Her father’s best friend, he ignites cataclysmic changes leading to an act of heartbreaking betrayal that changes the course of their lives forever. Read an excerpt here.
Ruth Coe Chamber’s play, Changing Places, took first prize at the First Coast Writer’s Festival, and echoes the voice of Tennessee Williams. A play in two acts set in the mid-1960s South, Changing Places opens on the day of a funeral and examines the twists and turns in the lives of the deceased, his widow and his sister. Grown old hating each other, the widow and sister reveal their true personalities.
A subsequent play, She’s Wonderful, also garnered first prize at the Festival. Both plays have been performed for audiences at Florida State College at Jacksonville as well as the ABET Experimental Theater in Atlantic Beach.
Water's Edge Magazine
Assorted articles and profiles for the Jacksonville-based magazine