I have read a handful of Elin Hilderbrand‘s books over the years and have found one oddly common trait among them: Almost universally, I hate her characters. And yet, I’ve loved every book. Odd, isn’t it?
The Castaways has eight (yes, eight) main characters and I hated them all, even the two who died before the novel started. Phoebe and Addison, Andrea and Ed, Delilah and Jeffrey, and Tess and Greg. Four self-indulgent, always drunk, mostly unfaithful couples (also best friends) living their lives and raising their children on Nantucket Island.
(All of Hilderbrand’s books take place on Nantucket, which is what drew me to them in the first place. There’s not enough fiction centering around Mackinac Island (hint to aspiring authors!) so Nantucket was the best substitute I could find!)
The couples have named their little clique “The Castaways” because of their varying back-stories on how they came to live on Nantucket. On the surface they appear to be very happy. That is, until one of the couples ends up dying. This throws the others into a tailspin, with secrets, lies, and mysteries simmering close to the surface but not yet exposed. All six feel some degree of guilt about the deaths. The novel documents their struggles individually and as couples as they come to terms with the tragedy. Each chapter is narrated by one of the six, and I loved hearing the varying points of view and being able to dig a little deeper than would have been possible with a single narrator.
By the end I didn’t dislike them quite as much, and the conclusion was satisfying and all mysteries solved. I did love the book. After all, if the characters weren’t well developed, there’d be nothing to hate!
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