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Untying the Moon

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Bailey Martin is in perpetual motion—a child of the South Carolina lowcountry tides, being pulled to and from a reckoning with destiny. A marine biologist by training and an artist by dedication and talent, Bailey is a woman of contradictions, at once a free-spirited adventurer giving deeply of herself to environmental causes and familial loyalties but also consumed by pri ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published October 30th 2015 by University of South Carolina Press (first published October 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Cc April
Sep 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I received this book as part of a Goodreads First reads promotion.

Untying the Moon by Ellen Malphrus is about Bailey Martin, a woman who journeys to find herself, find peace, find a home within her heart. The book follows her physical journey from Manhattan to Alaska to South Carolina and her emotional journey to inner peace. Read this book, you will be glad you did!
Devin Mock
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dr. Malphrus has managed to write her novel with a beautiful vocabulary and flow that I would expect from poetry. Though it is difficult to capture the breathtaking natural scapes of the lowcountry, she painted an image with her writing that comes closer than I thought was possible. I highly recommend, especially if you are from or appreciate the region highlighted in the book.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Poetry in prose; an outstanding first novel. This is a regional jewel with universal themes.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: southern-fiction
Although I struggled at the beginning, trying to understand the rhythm of the writing, I finally got interested enough to keep reading. An epic tale of love, loss, family and the familiar feel of the lowcountry.
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author Ellen Malphrus has beautifully written the story of one woman’s journey towards self-acceptance and home. Bailey Martin, a woman in her 30s, is a child of the lowcountry in South Carolina. By nature, she has a wanderlust spirit, born of the tides of her homeland. Being in constant motion prevents her from understanding and embracing her authentic identity. Following the death of her mother three years earlier, some of whose own experiences the author uses to highlight Bailey’s transit ...more
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
lyrical, haunting, and engrossing. full review later.

The book is more of a character study and thus has little actual plot, though if I had to pin it down I'd say that the novel follows Bailey Martin through a few years of her life as she comes to grip with the death of her mother and reconciles her wandering spirit with romance and the needs of those who love her.

I will say that the plot takes a turn in the last third that I was not expecting. This turn doesn't come out of nowhere, but it chang
Kate Torborg
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
WHAT a book. This left me thinking and thinking...and I just cannot accept the ending.
I have hope.

The first part of this story follows a delicious road trip with Bailey Martin as she drives up and down the east coast. Bailey eats and adventures and one can visualize this experience--gorgeous and scrumptious, if not plainly escaping something of which we are not aware.

The story gets layered and we see how complicated a creature Bailey is--with wonderfully supportive and supporting characters thro
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have long believed that poets make good novelists: they pay attention to nuances of language; they attend to form and order; they are attuned to the senses.

In Untying the Moon, Dr. Ellen Malphrus proves this to be the case. The language is powerful as she offers up the story of Bailey Martin, her main character. Malphrus beautifully draws a childhood spent on a river and realistically presents the friendships forged on the water. As a symbol, the water appropriately represents the hidden depth
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After being told by countless friends to read Untying the Moon, I finally caved. I grew up in the Lowcountry and thought it was fate when I found a copy of Malphrus' first novel at an airport thousands of miles from our home. Immediately upon reading the last pages, I picked up the phone and called my best friend, sharing with him just how phenomenal this book is. It's hard to put into meaningful words how much this story captivated and emotionally drew me into the world of Bailey Martin, and I ...more
Cindy Feigert
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up while vacationing in the low country. What caught my eye along with the title was the forward by Pat Conroy. I felt if he was endorsing the book I would like it. There are many layers to the story of Bailey Martin. Her search for love and her place in the world is often filled with heartbreak but there is always hope. The author does a wonderful job of describing life in low country. I like how she weaves into the story real life world events that have affected our environm ...more
I received this through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

What a delight! The visual imagery is sprinkled with kernels of wisdom, bits of poetry, references to musical icons and the promise of better things.

As you follow the main character through interactions with nature, memories and assorted individuals, you feel her sense of wonderment as well as glimpses into her past, woven through accounts gleaned from authors she loves.

Reading this will cause you to momentarily pause in your daily pursuits
Gail Bertram
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Untying the Moon, the first novel by Ellen Malphrus is a very good read. If you appreciate and love the coastal stretches of South Carolina's lowcountry (as do I) then the richness of the author's descriptions will impress. Malphrus definitely put her gift of poetry to prose when writing this book. The protagonist, Bailey Martin, is conflicted and struggles to find who she is and what she wants from life. The reader hooks a ride with Bailey up and down the east coast and beyond in her quest to w ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Untying the Moon” captures the South Carolina lowlands — and to the other places the story takes you, from Maine to Alaska — with poetic prose rivaled only by the author’s friend and mentor, the late Pat Conroy. It is not so much a novel but a sensory experience - right at the start, you taste the lobster roll Bailey gets in Maine, and the book keeps going like that. It is a slow read, but only because you get so immersed in the detail and the picture Dr. Malphrus paints for you that you want t ...more
Linda Sheets
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
What an interesting novel. The language and imagery are amazing. The story starts out capturing your interest with Bailey's unique story, her wandering spirit, and zest for life, and then continues with a twisting plot interwoven with more interesting characters, and a celebration of nature and the low country of South Carolina. A lot of themes in this book -- maybe too many and too much going on. ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was such a beautiful book and so well written. I usually hate books that have very little action, but I never felt bored from the book. It is slow paced and not a lot of plot actually happens, but it feels so real. I loved it.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Untying the Moon is a book to be savored. The language is concise and lyrical. The characters are complex and believable. The descriptions of food and locations make you want to jump in the car for a road trip. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a slow book, and I mean that in the best sense of the word. Malphrus is a poet, as well as a novelist, and her prose is worth lingering over. This novel is filled with a love of the land, but it's also a romance, an all-across-the-U.S. road novel, and a mother-daughter story. ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A "must read" for anyone that loves traveling, coastal settings, and the sensory delights of regional foods. ...more
Margaret Collins
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
'Loved the poetic writing as well as the story because it was always moving. Characters are well developed. Great read. ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! I hope she writes more books.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. However, the first chapter was rough to get through, and while the book got marginally better, it never really impressed me.

A story of a wandering soul trying to settle down with a man, with messages of what love isn’t and where love is needed (towards the earth).

I felt like it was a tell not show book where a lot happened but it felt like nothing. However, I did like the main character Bailey and the character Retta. Wish I was able to have more positive thi
Avary Doubleday
Just couldn't get into it. Maybe at another time. ...more
Katherine Lang
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. She does the best job of evoking the low country of South Carolina that I have read since Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides, and she may even have done it better than Conroy! Add a complex young woman as a main character with wanderlust as profound as that of Aeneas, and you have a very thought-provoking and satisfying reading experience. ...more
Lorene Haupt
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Jul 04, 2015
Angela Aloise
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Jun 14, 2016
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Apr 18, 2016
Mickey Taylor
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Apr 26, 2017
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Apr 11, 2016
Jane Schmitt
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Feb 17, 2016
Linda Bange
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Dec 10, 2015
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Ellen Malphrus lives and writes beside the May River in her native South Carolina Lowcountry and beneath the Madison Mountains in western Montana. She studied under esteemed poet and author of Deliverance, James Dickey, who was her mentor and Graduate Director for the MFA she earned at the University of South Carolina.

Malphrus’ fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in a variety of publications

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