Thursday, July 9, 2009

Review: The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

The Castaways Book Cover

"This was the pornography of grief. Going back and remembering a dead person's life, step by step." p. 190

Elin Hilderbrand has these books that look like perfect summer reads. I have a few of her books in my TBR pile and all they have the beach on them! So I was excited to have the opportunity to review The Castaways and see if these books are as good as they look.

Quite honestly, The Castaways starts out a bit depressing, with the death of one fourth of 4 couples who spend all their time together and might be just a little too close. This couple is out sailing on their 12th anniversary and drown. But the story is really about these messed up relationships and how the remaining couples sort out the twisted, tangled mess their lives have become.

Hilderbrand is a good writer, her characters are well developed, I had a strong sense of who they were. The book takes turns sharing from the perspective of each in third person...detailing how each individual is dealing with the death of their friends and sharing the important details from the past. I did find it jarring that sometimes it was written as if the characters knew they were telling this story. For example, at one point it would say, "She'll tell this story" Which almost seemed like it could have been a note the author had to self. This came up enough to be irritating to me, and is not a technique I enjoyed. Aside from that, however, great writing!

I was in a reading funk and this was a good book to pull me out. It's a complete soap opera....if you have 4 couples this close you better bet they aren't all being faithful to their spouses and there's lots of behavior like that. I do think it's a good beach read for that element, but because there is so much grief and sorrow in the book, it's not a laugh-out-loud kind of book. And I only liked a few of the characters, there were a few storylines that bored me. I felt particularly sympathetic to Phoebe's story (and horrified by it) and while I was interested in Delilah's story, she got on my nerves in a big way.

I really did enjoy this book, though! I didn't want to put it down, I was interested in finding out what happened, and because each character held a small piece of the puzzle, it was necessary to watch each narrative unfold. Recommended right now as a good read for summer. I could almost smell the sunscreen and taste the strawberries!

Rating: 4/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Sex. Language. Drug Use. Whatever might be found in a soap opera? Found in this book.

The Castaways is available everywhere now, including Amazon and is published by Little, Brown. (Hachette Book Group)



Jennsbookshelf said...

Yay! I'm so glad you found a book to pull you out of your funk! Glad you enjoyed it, so did I!

Care said...

I enjoyed this review. Soap opera, huh?

Nely said...

I agree this was like reading a good piece of gossip and getting everyone's intake on it. Very soap opera-ish, but I enjoyed it as well. Great review.

bermudaonion said...

This book is loaded with drama, but I thought it was so much fun!

Anna said...

I'm glad to see so many good reviews of this book, as I snagged a copy at BEA. I'm looking forward to reading it. I've heard that the characters are very well done. Thanks for the review!

Diary of an Eccentric

rhapsodyinbooks said...

It's interesting that there was so much you didn't like about it yet you couldn't put it down!

Sandy Nawrot said...

This one is making its rounds, and seems to offer just a little more than the average chickish summer read (which is what you would expect from the cover). I think I get your point though. It is alot like the soaps on TV. I really detest them in a way. They are sometimes shallow, incestuous, unbelievable, etc. but there are times when you just have to watch and allow yourself to be entertained. I'm glad to hear that it helped get the funk out. Although I did enjoy the hell conversation!

Nicole said...

Great review Amy. I enjoyed this soap opera from start to finish.

sarah pekkanen said...

Glad you liked it-- you're the second person (and blogger) that I trust who has recommended this, which makes me certain I'm going to like it. I've read all her other books and really enjoy them. My husband spent a summer driving a taxi cab on Nantucket, and it has a special place in his heart. We've gone back there a few times together, so I love it that all her books are set on Nantucket.

Beth F said...

I found it difficult to put down too. I didn't like the people much, but I wanted to know their stories.

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