Summary: 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. -- Little, Brown & Co.
Every summer, I like to find books that allow me to escape from my normal day-to-day life. You know what I mean -- books that take me somewhere else. Whether it's a story that takes place in a new-to-me location or even if it's just a story that I can get caught up in, I love summer reading when I can just get away from it all. Well, I think I've found another ideal summer book. It's by an author with whom I'm starting to associate summer-time reading -- Elin Hilderbrand, and her latest book is THE CASTAWAYS.
Last summer, I read Ms. Hilderbrand's A SUMMER AFFAIR (click here to read my review and enter my three book giveaway) and I really liked it. I felt the same way about THE CASTAWAYS, although I think I might have enjoyed this book even more. One thing that really drew me into this book was the mystery aspect. And while the mystery angle definitely wasn't the heart of this novel (it was really a story about the remaining "Castaways" and how they were dealing with the death of their friends), I thought the author did a terrific job of incorporating it into this story. As I read this book, I kept wondering if the sailing accident wasn't really an accident at all , and I found myself developing suspicions about a few of the characters.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the fashion in which the book was told. Each of the six characters had their own separate chapters (written in third person) where the reader could learn their individual story. Naturally there were chapters that I enjoyed more just because I was more interested in certain characters' lives. I also liked how the author incorporated flashback scenes into the book as a way to give the reader the background on all of the characters. It definitely helped me to understand the actions and behavior of all of the characters, and I admit it probably gave me more compassion towards the ones that I didn't initially like at all. I thought the transitions between the present and the past were very smooth, and I had no problems following the story.
As I mentioned above, I thought the focus of this novel was really on how the death of Tess and Greg affected their family and friends. The characters is this book were so interesting to me -- probably because they were so complex; however, I found myself not really liking quite a few of them. As I type that, I'm not sure it came out quite right. All of the characters had redeeming traits, but they were also very human and thus very flawed. What I found so interesting was how Ms. Hilderbrand made these characters so incredibly real to me. I felt their pain and I rooted for them to find some contentment and happiness. (Having said that, I also wanted to just shake quite a few of them.) I guess what I'm trying to say is that these characters made me have strong feelings -- both good and bad -- and not all books have characters that can invoke those emotions in me.
Ms. Hilderbrand certainly has a way with bringing the island of Nantucket to life. In fact, I think Nantucket almost becomes another character in this story. Her descriptions of the island make me visualize it so clearly, and it really feels as if she has a true understanding of this area. Of course, it probably helps that she lives on Nantucket with her family. Besides her beautiful descriptions, Ms. Hilderbrand also has a terrific ability to tell a story. I was surprised by how quickly I became caught up in the lives of these characters; and I was extremely anxious to get to the end of the book -- not because I wanted to finish the book, but rather because I was dying to find some answers!
There is a fantastic website devoted to Elin Hilderbrand and Nantucket. It's a fun-filled community where you can learn more about Ms. Hilderbrand, discuss her books, talk about your summer plans, and lots of other things! There's even a special place for book clubs with discussion questions coming soon! You should definitely consider this novel for a summer book club read. Besides playing amateur psychologist and analyzing all the characters and their actions (or just gossiping about them!), there are also many serious themes in this book that are ripe for discussion such as addiction, adultery, depression, troubled marriages, guilt, redemption, and new beginnings. With this list of juicy topics, you can clearly see that this novel really is ideal for reading by a pool or at the beach!
And just in case you want to have a cocktail (or two) while reading THE CASTAWAYS, here's a link to a very book appropriate drink called a Surfsider. You could even make them for your next book club meeting!
The tour for THE CASTAWAYS is huge and will be running all week! Check out these other tour stops:
Thanks to Miriam from Hachette for organizing this book blog tour.
I just happen to have an extra copy of THE CASTAWAYS. If you'd like to enter this giveaway, please leave a comment with a valid e-mail address telling me why you want to read this book. To double or even triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this contest with a link back to this post. This contest will be open until July 20th at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I will notify the winner the following day. This giveaway is open to those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!