Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

Flap description from hardcover:
"On the timy island of Nantucket, everybody's business is everyone's business. When the charming, talented music teacher Greg MacAvoy shares a rainy Sunday night with the beautiful high school senior April Peck, rumors swarm the island like tourists on Memorial Day. The stories strain Greg's marriage, and his wife Tess is torn between her love for her husband and a secret of her own. With their anniversary approaching, the MacAvoys head out on their sailboat to celebrate, hoping the roughest waters are behind them.

But instead comes heartbreaking news: Greg and Tess have mysteriously drowned, leaving behind two small children. Their closest friends- the Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers- are devastated. For as long as anyone can remember, the four couples have vacationed and celebrated together, confided in and depended on one another. But tragedy brings long simmering conflicts and emotions to the surface. The six friends, upended by grief and denial, set out to answer the question: What happened to Greg and Tess MacAvoy?

This was an excellent offering by a talented author, one that explored the tough issues of love and loss and redemption through the eyes of a disparate cast of characters. Though we never meet Greg and Tess MacAvoy, they loom large over the narrative as their characters are revealed in snippets of memories. Each of the six main characters in The Castaways have a different vision of Tess and Greg, and only by combining all those different versions do their true personalities unfold.

Well-written and deftly rendered, this story of adult relationships between friends, families, spouses and exes reflects the complicated reality of today's world. I was most impressed by the pacing of the various revelations and quality of the ending. I found the novel engaging and difficult to put down once I started. This is a must-read for the summer season. Highly recommended- 5 strong stars!

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