"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review #27: The Castaways, by Elin Hilderbrand

When Tess and Greg MacAvoy mysteriously drown on a sailing trip on their twelfth anniversary, the remaining members of their group of friends - the Castaways - struggle to absorb and accept their loss.

We are introduced first to the men: the Chief, Ed Kapenash, Nantucket's chief of police; Addison Wheeler, the millionaire real estate agent; and finally Jeffery, the quiet and solid farmer. Then we meet the women: Andrea, the Chief's wife and Tess's older cousin, mother of two nearly grown teenagers; Delilah, the slightly wild wife of Jeffrey, third in command at the local restaurant, and mother of two young boys; and Phoebe, Addison's perpetually drug-numbed wife.

Through their stories, we learn about Tess and Greg, the kindergarten teacher and the high school music teacher, parents of young twins Chloe and Finn. The six voices tell the group's history, and we watch as everyone meets. We go on group vacations with them, we relive their miscarriages, their family deaths, the births of their children. And slowly, slowly, we discover their secrets: resentment, pain, love, jealousy, hidden alliances, hidden affairs.

Hilderbrand employs an interesting style, giving each of the six characters a voice, so that the reader is able to see all sides of the story. Each character feels responsible for Tess and Greg's deaths, and the individual reasons are all revealed towards the end of the novel. Unfortunately, once those secrets come out, the novel wraps up far too quickly and neatly. With a different ending, this novel would have stayed with me, but instead, it left me disappointed.

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