Sunday, June 12, 2011
Book Report: The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
Some novels use characters as props, never plumbing the depths of their personalities to reveal their greatest fears, their biggest regrets, or even what they like to eat for dinner. The Castaways, by Elin Hilderbrand, is a tale that unabashedly plumbs. The story is about the Castaways, a group of four close-knit Nantucket couples, one of which dies in a boating accident. Each of the friends takes turns discussing the incident in his or her own distinctive voice, revealing secrets that both complicate and illuminate the tragedy. The Castaways has a dark, soap operatic quality not unlike that of "Desperate Housewives" in the good old days. The characters are the kind of people you'd run into at the supermarket or at PTA meetings; well-meaning and idiosyncratic and protective of their shadows. The small-town island setting lends intimacy, quietly reminding us that each character is an island with problems isolating himself or herself from the others. Yet to solve the mystery and move on with their lives, each must band together like any castaways bent on survival. Striking a balance between literary symbolism and everyday life, The Castaways delivers an enriching tale that will resonate with readers long after they've shaken the sand from their beach towels.