Monday, July 6, 2009

Book Review #8 and Blog Tour: THE CASTAWAYS by Elin Hilderbrand

Description (from the publisher)
Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed.

Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life.

About the author (from the publisher)
Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her five previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

My Rating: 4/5

My Thoughts:
Wouldn't you just love to be one of the people on the cover of THE CASTAWAYS? Lying barefoot on the beach, warm in the sun, lulled by the rhythmic surf. Well, be careful what you wish for -- life on Nantucket isn't always so relaxed and carefree, especially if you've just found out that your best friends are dead, maybe murdered. That's what each of the six people, three couples, telling this story are facing. Greg and Tess MacAvoy have drowned while sailing on their anniversary. Part of a group of friends who have nicknamed themselves the Castaways, Greg and Tess have been weathering some marital difficulties. Depending on whichever friend is at the helm of the story, this little boat trip could make or break their marriage.

Andrea and Tess are cousins who grew up together on the mainland and are as close as sisters. When she was nine, Tess nearly drowned on a beach where Andrea worked as a lifeguard and since then Andrea feels especially responsible for Tess. Andrea's husband, Ed, is the island's Chief of Police and has the unwelcome task of breaking the bad news to his wife, friends, and to Greg and Tess's 7-year-old twins. He also has the unpleasant task of delving deep in the private lives of his deceased friends in order to determine if their deaths were due to an accident or events more sinister.

Jeffrey, though married to Delilah, still pines for Andrea, his former live-in girlfriend. Delilah, aware of Jeffrey's feelings, puts all her energies into raising their kids and being the group's party hostess and social director in an effort to ignore the holes in her marriage. Delilah wishes she could have been closer to Tess, but the strong bond between Tess and Andrea didn't leave enough room for her to wedge herself in.

However, Addison and Tess have somehow managed to have a secret affair during the previous six months or so. It wasn't difficult to hide the affair from Addison's wife, Phoebe. She's been in a narcotic fog ever since her twin brother died in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. Addison wants Tess to divorce Greg and marry him. And why shouldn't she? Didn't Greg have an "inappropriate relationship" with an underage student? Or did he?

Clearly, THE CASTAWAYS is about the muddy and murky relationships between and among the various characters comprising this tight-knit little group. Elin Hilderbrand does a wonderful job of giving voice to each of the distinctly individual personalities. Cast adrift by this sudden tragedy, each person examines their relationship to the deceased couple, their friends, and to their own spouses. As though illuminated by their grief, each becomes aware of the weaknesses in their marriages and friendships, where loyalties have failed and forgiveness is required. Whether these flailing castaways will recover is as much of a mystery as why Greg and Tess died.

This is a complex and multi-layered story with a lot more depth than the laid-back book cover suggests. If you're looking for a satisfying summer read about love, marriage, and friendship, this is the book for you!

To read an excerpt, click here.

Visit (and join!) the author's website: Elin Hilderbrand's Nantucket

Get the recipe for the original The Castaways Cocktail: The Surfsider

Julie at Booking Mama has one copy of THE CASTAWAYS to giveaway. Click here to enter through July 20, 2009.

Brimful Curiosities is also hosting a giveaway for 3 copies of THE CASTAWAYS. Click here to enter through July 20, 2009.
Dar at Peeking Between the Pages is hosting a giveaway for 3 copies. Click here to enter through July 28, 2009.
Kathy at Bermudaonion is giving away 1 copy of THE CASTAWAYS. Click here to enter through July 15, 2009.

Visit the other stops along the tour:

July 6

July 7

July 8

July 9

July 10

This blook tour was organized by Miriam of Hachette Book Group who supplied my review copy.Thanks Miriam!


kalea_kane said...

Wow, Gwendolyn! What a fabulous review! You definitely piqued my interest!

bermudaonion said...

I'll be touring this one tomorrow, but pretty much agree with everything you said about it!

Toni said...

I'll be touring tomorrow.. I didn't finish the book yet as I took it to the beach to enjoy and didn't get it finished, but my review will post this week. Happy Blog Tour day!

Brimful Curiosities said...

Excellent review. Love the bit about muddy and murky relationships and your references that the characters were cast adrift by the tragedy. I found it especially interesting to read about how each character dealt with the deaths.

Rose City Reader said...

Sounds good! It has a similar theme to David Crace's National Book Critics Circle award-winner, Being Dead. But this one sounds good, and I did not like Crace's book one bit.

Miriam Parker said...

I'm glad you found this satisfying. :)

Lisa said...

Great review. I usually only skim tour books and this isn't usually my cup of tea, but your review is good enough to make me go enter the giveaways.

Dar said...

Great review Gwendolyn! I really enjoyed this book as well. Thanks for the shout out for my giveaway. I appreciate it.

Diane said...

Good review; I've enjoyed several of her books. Perfect summer reads.

Anna said...

Glad to see you enjoyed this one. It's in my pile, and I can't wait to read it. Great review!

Diary of an Eccentric

itsJUSTme-wendy said...

I have summer affair by her but I haven't read it yet. This one sounds good too!

Never tried Urban Jumble, LOL.

Toni said...

I forgot to add.. I like "muddy and murky" Great description!