A favorite US region of mine are the islands of the northeast: famous Martha’s Vineyard, more private Natucket and Block Island, and then the smaller and less developed places that include Tuckernuck Island – sitting between the Vineyard and Nantucket.
Elin Hilderbrand most recent novel is set primarily on Tuckernuck and she captures the pace and peace of these summer islands. The cold water showers, the airlessness of a warm attic, and the change of life speed that a beach house can bring.
In the opening of The Island, Hilderbrand defined the house, “It was a summer house, a cottage, though it had been built well, with high-quality lumber and square, steel-headed nails. This was back in 1935, during the Depression. The carpenters had been eager for work; they were careful when aligning the shingles, they sanded, swept, then sanded again with high-grit paper.” I wanted to be there, to have my family pass such a home through the generations, to experience the joys and the aches that a family shares over time.
Hilderbrand brought the four women characters to this house for a month; Tate – 30-year-old, on-the-go computer professional, Chess – 32-year-old magazine editor who recently broke off an engagement and quit her job, Birdie – divorced mother of Tate and Chess, and Birdie’s sister India – widowed art professional experimenting with her emotions.
The characters played off each other in the familiar ways of family and the author’s style made the reader privy to the thought processes of each character. The tone of each character was individualized enough to differentiate them and similar enough to reinforce their family connection.
The characters were almost strong women, who almost were able to be independent. I wanted to like them and empathize with them, but the characters headed to the island as though it was a remote wilderness of simplicity and peace, yet had a caretaker bringing groceries and hauling garbage during twice-a-day trips over to the island in his power boat. The illusion of Tuckernuck’s simple and introspective living ended up feeling like a month away for the troubled elite.
So, like the changeable weather on the summer islands of the north east, I am both hot and cold about The Island. I guess I liked where it took me, but didn’t care overmuch for my traveling companions.
Joanne is an organization development and human resources professional with a business background living in Ohio. She has lived in Europe, Africa (including her Peace Corps service in South Africa), and arround the United States. She loves to plays volleyball, read, write, and has a cat named Ender.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.