The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover, 407 pages, 2010

Rating: 10/10

Reason for Reading: I enjoyed two of Hilderbrand’s previous novels, Barefoot and A Summer Affair.

Synopsis: Birdie Cousins is busy planning a show-stopper wedding for her daughter, Chess, when she calls off the whole thing. Before anyone can even react, a tragedy strikes, further rocking Chess’ world. Seeking comfort, Birdie decides to return to their old summer home on Tuckernuck Island with the distraught Chess, her career-driven daughter, Tate, and her own sister, India. But it turns out Chess isn’t the only one looking to escape – Birdie is separated from her husband and giving dating a try, Tate feels like an outcast because she’s never found love, and India may be a big deal in the art world, but she’s haunted by her husband’s death. Slowly, the women’s secrets are exposed, and they will have to learn to turn to each other for comfort and laughter.

Why you should read this book: Some people might equate ‘beach read’ with ‘mindless,’ but Hilderbrand shines again with a rich tale of heartbreak, tough choices, and second chances. Each of the characters has her own absorbing problems and stories, and a different personality that puts her own unique spin on her world-view. Tate and Chess, who are in their late 20s, are seen evaluating love, life, and themselves – just as Birdie and India, the older women, are doing, letting us see that life is not static and there can be no one ultimate ‘answer’ to any of these questions. The story skips around between each of the four women’s perspectives, slowly revealing their backstories while plenty is happening in day-to-day life on the island. It’s not all tragedy and troubles – there is some romance on the island in the form of Barrett, who brings the women their daily deliveries from the mainland. This novel of family drama has it all and will keep you happily reading well into autumn.

Why you should avoid this book: If you look at a ‘beach read’ as light, fluffy fun where nothing truly bad happens to people and you can see the ending coming a mile away…move along to another read, please.

Opening paragraph:

It had sat abandoned for thirteen years. This had happened without warning.

Fabulous quotes:

In her rare moments of clarity, she realized that her situation wasn’t original. She had been an English major at Colchester. Her situation was Shakespearean; it was, in fact, Hamlet. She had fallen in love with her fianc&#233’s brother – madly, unreasonably, insanely in love with Nick Morgan.

This was right when Bill’s sickness began to present itself in a way that she could no longer ignore. On Tuckernuck, Bill was relaxed and unfettered. He was able to laugh and to be her lover. They made love on the squishy mattress (filled with jelly, they used to joke), they made love out of doors – on the beach, in the Scout, at the end of the dirt road, and once, recklessly, in the old schoolhouse. Why couldn’t Bill be like this at home? India had asked. She was crying. She was so happy here, right now, like this! And at home, in their real life, things were miserable.

Also recommended: Got You Back by Jane Fallon; Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy; A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve.

Also by this author: The Beach Club; Nantucket Nights; Summer People; The Blue Bistro; The Love Season; Barefoot; A Summer Affair; The Castaways.

Author’s website:

Fun tidbit: Check out Hilderbrand’s Top Ten Ways to Survive the End of Summer blog post.

Would I read more by this author? Hilderbrand is an author I would definitely read once a year. Any more than that and I may be forced to succumb to summer-living envy.

&#169 Lisa Yanaky 2003-2010

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