Summer, sand, salt water does anyone do it better than Elin Hilderbrand? In her latest effort, The Island, the author again embraces that idealistic all-American scene with a story that manages to be both easy and breezy, yet heartbreaking and profound. It’s a tall order for a writer whose books all which have taken place in the WASP-y enclave of Nantucket and its surrounding islands bring to life the blonde, the beautiful, and the privileged.
The Island, whose setting is the remote private isle of Tuckernuck, is primarily a story of four women Birdie Cousins, her daughters Chess and Tate, and Birdie’s sister, India. The women, of course, are all harboring dark secrets and rediscovering long-lost desires, and they agree to reunite at the family’s rustic compound after an absence of more than a dozen years. Over the course of a month and plenty bottles of Sancerre the women fight and reconnect, love and lose love. The impetus for the gathering is Chess, who’s recovering from both a broken engagement and the subsequent accidental death of her ex-fiance, but the Cousins gals all in turn come to face and conquer their own, less obvious demons.
This, as is much of the best so-called “summer beach reading”, is about women tapping into their empowerment. The book rotates among the perspectives of each woman, and narrator Denice Hicks is at her best when giving voice to Birdie, a perpetual people-pleaser and the most naive of the bunch. This is a wide-eyed matriarch whose continual surprise and shock at life’s event lends credence to Hick’s lilting, almost musical inflections. Hicks does falter, though, when she reads as the other characters, most notably the worldly and adventurous India, whose nascent affair with a younger woman comes across as disingenuous. At 15 hours, the book isn’t a quick listen, but in the end goes down just as smooth as the Cousins’ coveted Sancerre. Jaime Buerger
Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess's lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she's cancelled her engagement.
It's only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she's embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter, Tate, and her own sister, India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store - a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.
But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known. It's a summertime story only Elin Hilderbrand can tell, filled with the heartache, laughter, and surprises that have made her best-selling novels as much a part of summer as a long afternoon on a sunny beach.
©2010 Elin Hilderbrand (P)2010 Hachette
"This never-never land portrait of the rich and randy will please those looking for a satisfying beach read." (Publishers Weekly)
I couldn't even get to the heart of the story - assuming there is one. The narrator was like listening Desperate Housewives narrator or someone who read stories to 2nd graders. I was hoping for a light beach read, and maybe would accomplish that in the book version, but just couldn't stomach listening to this woman "read to me" as if I were a 7.
I really disliked this book. I could not relate to any of the women. There was so much angst over so little. The narrotor's voice did not help at all. This is an author and narrator I will remember so I will never listen again.
I am barely into this book but I can hardly stand to listen to the reader. She is so sing-songy in her delivery and pauses inappropriately and gushes over the wrong words. I wish I'd bought the book instead of the audible book. The book is fine but I don't think I can listen to 15 hours of Denise Hicks.
sooo predictable and the reader is absolutely annoying. At first I thought if it were a different reader maybe it would be better, but probably not.
The story is pleasant enough but I'm in the middle of it and I honestly don't think I can tolerate this reader's voice to finish it. I will avoid her from now on.
I love Elin HIlderbrand and this story was okay as far as her work goes, but this audio version of it was painful to listen to due to the sing-songy voice of the narrator with improper inflections and just a very annoying way of reading as if she were reading a picture book to a small child. Sadly, I think even a small child would find it annoying. I cringed all the way through it, listening to the end because of how much I paid for it and also wanting to know how the story turned out, but I will never listen to another book read by that reader.
This was perhaps the most trite book I've ever read. Predictable, shallow and juvenile. A total disappointment. The characters were amongst the most immature characters I've encountered. I only kept listening to it because "I'd paid for it". Avoid at all costs.
not a chance
I really liked one of Hilderbrand's other books (The Castaways), so I was looking forward to this one. The Island, however, is pretty dull. Not much of a plot, somewhat dull characters, and overall I just wanted back to the mainland. There are much better books out there.
I enjoyed the story, but the thing I will probably remember most is the little details that didn't make sense. I guess the issue was that I'm the same age as the girls, would have grown up at the same time, and live in the Philadelphia area. Moat details Elin hit the nail on the head, but other minor items, particularly in the daughter's life ruined it for me (computer details, products in the girls lives, also they would have primarily grown up in the 90s, not the 80s.) Also, I don't love how Tate's character was drawn. For an independent "tomboy" who was a computer professional, she was kind of unbelievable. Chess and India were written much better. Fun, but overly sappy in parts.
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