The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand (♦♦♦♦)
Tess and Greg had weathered a rocky year in their marriage, thanks in part to a student accusing Greg of sexual misconduct, which was later withdrawn. The lies or half truths haunted their relationship ever since. Tess left Greg for a week, but decided to take him back; Andrea asked Tess to. On their anniversary they had little to celebrate, but wanted to mend fences and start again stronger than ever.
Andrea Kapenash, the chief of police’s wife, was Tess’ first cousin. They practically grew up together, thus Andrea always felt protective of Tess, almost as Tess’ second mother. When Tess was a child, she came close to drowning and Andrea always felt guilty of it, reason why she couldn’t forgive herself when her fear came true that summer.
With their dear friends dead, the three remaining couples failed to cope with grief. They went through every stage of the grieving process without finding relief. Then, ultimately, it was confessing each other’s sins and transgressions that they found absolution, and the will to move on with their lives.
I really liked this book. I was so disappointed in this author after I finished The Blue Bistro that I thought I was done with Hilderbrand’s stories…Then I read Silver Girl, which was mildly good, and now this one. Well, I’m glad to report that I liked this book even more than I liked The Island, and that is saying something…
The Castaways is a juicy cocktail of marital betrayal, hidden secrets, furtive attractions, longing, tense alliances and redemption. The Castaways, as The Island, is told from several characters’ points of views (six in this case). Lurid details make the story come alive according to the character telling it; the result is a raw portrayal of flawed yet strikingly human characters and emotions.
I usually dislike, in books as well as in movies, to read or to watch a tragedy unfold from the very beginning because it is difficult to feel any emotion towards the deceased considering one didn’t know them. In this book, Hilderbrand gets away with it thanks to the perspectives of Tess and Greg’s friends. We get to know the deceased couple due to their friends’ recounts of their characters, flaws, ups and downs as individuals and as a couple.
Recommended as a summer read and if you like juicy, emotional stories.