RoadTrip America

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The Castaways: A Novel, by Elin Hilderbrand (Read by Katie Hale)

Tess and Greg MacAvoy, one of four couples whose close friendship has enabled them all to survive the isolation of living year-round on Nantucket Island, are dead. Hoping to repair and renew a strained marriage, they take a gourmet picnic lunch and go on a romantic sail to celebrate their anniversary. When their bodies are found under the capsized boat, their friends begin the mourning process by reliving the times they've shared. Although at first glance their friendship appears to be a straightforward matter of four couples who party together, vacation together and support each other through life's joys and sorrows, as the stories unfold it becomes obvious that there were many secrets among the friends. The six surviving friends struggle with their grief and in examining their connections with Greg and Tess, they individually recognize strengths and shortcomings that have influenced their marriages, families and careers.

What seems at first to be a chick lit tale of summer adventures in a beach setting becomes much more, thanks to Elin Hilderbrand's skillful writing. She introduces the characters initially as mere members of the group of eight, but fleshes them out with such detail and insight that by the end of the book each becomes the hero or heroine of his or her own personal drama. Katie Hale's excellent narration allows the listener to slip into the minds and hearts of each character as their individual stories are played out.

Hilderbrand makes the listener a virtual member of Nantucket society, enjoying the relaxation of the beach environment as well as the charm of living in a historic small New England town. To offset the tranquility, though, she provides a possible double murder or murder-suicide, child abuse, drug abuse, and infidelity on multiple fronts. The experience for the listener is like being on a sailboat that leaves shore slipping easily through calm waters, encounters menacing winds and waves in the open sea and then settles on steady course back to port. This is an excellent book for the listener who enjoys introspection and appreciates the often surprising dynamics of adult relationships.

Ruth Mormon

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