Friday, July 17, 2009

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

I used to be a huge Hilderbrand fan.  Upon discovering and devouring The Love Season, I became a dedicated reader and so did my best friend and my mother. But I found her last book (A Summer Affair) to be incredibly disappointing.  The Castaways was a compelling read but it still lacked some of the magic of Hilderbrand's earlier works.

This novel, like all of Hilderbrand's novels, takes place in Nantucket. This novel focuses on a group of friends: four couples with a series of connections. Andrea, who is married to the police chief, formerly dated Jeffery, the husband of Delilah.  Tess, Andrea's cousin, is having an affair with wealthy Addison Wheeler (known as Wheeler the Dealer), the husband of Phoebe.  There is also a deep friendship/flirtatious relationship between Tess's husband Greg, and Delilah.  As you can already tell this is quite the soap opera. The book begins with the announcement of the drowning deaths of Greg and Tess, who went sailing to celebrate their twelfth  anniversary. Their deaths ricochet throughout the group, and as we learn about the unique way each character is grieving, we also learn a great deal of the backstory behind this incestuous group.

The story alternates through each character's perspective, so we are able to see first hand why Addison falls for Tess, how Jeffrey feels about Andrea, what lead Phoebe to become addicted to pills, how deeply Andrea and her family are affected by her own grief.  There is a great deal of suspense built into the book, and each character is well-fleshed out but I still couldn't help but miss the evocative language, and effortless storytelling found in The Love Season.

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