Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Island - Elin Hilderbrand (Audio)


Perhaps the fate of this book was sealed by the fact that I WANTED to listen to Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, but my iPod pooped out. (Therefore I was forced to listen to the only audio I had in physical disc form - this one.) Perhaps it was because it was literally freezing outside and this was a beach book. Whatever the case, this audio was defending itself before I ever started it!

Synopsis: Fifty-something sisters India and Birdie, along with Birdie's two daughters Chess and Tate, retreat to the family cabin on Tuckernuck Island for a month to lick their wounds caused by men. Birdie recently divorced her husband of 30 years. Chess suddenly called off her engagement. Tate has never fallen in love. And India's famous artist husband committed suicide two years prior, leaving India questioning her role in his demise. It is a month to reconnect and rejuvenate. After all, the island has no electricity, no cell coverage, no wireless connections...and all supplies must be transported by boat from nearby Nantucket. (And oh by the way, the dude that delivers their supplies is quite handsome, and is a recent widower...)

Each woman takes turn narrating their present state of mind, their past and how they got to this point in their lives, slowly unraveling each of their own secrets and ghosts. Why did Birdie divorce Grant, and what about her new boyfriend Hank? Why did Chess call off her engagement so suddenly? Why has Tate never found Mr. Right? Who is India involved with now, and what will her family think? Their month on the island also is a study in mother/daughter relationships, and sister/sister relationships, and the dangerous, rocky territory that these relationships are built upon.

My thoughts: When someone mentions the term "book for women" or "chick lit", this is the exact type of book I think of. Women with baggage, emotional angst, the hope of new love, buried secrets, handsome boy toys, mean threatening rich bitches, and happy endings. There is really nothing wrong with a plot like this, as long as that is your expectation. It was easy to listen to this book, because while there were some serious issues and tragedy, it still felt light and unencumbered. I might even call it fluffy.

I started out liking the characters well enough. But as the book progressed, I began to dislike some of them. Chess was always brooding and refusing to discuss her "horrible" secret. She was very self-absorbed. Tate was like a hyper dog and was very jealous and immature. Birdie was a little bit of a doormat. Then there were those very predictable situations where, early in a relationship, there are misunderstandings, nervous lovers refuse to just sit down and talk things out, and ALL IS LOST! Or so they think, but then they work things out and live happily ever after. You know what I'm talking about right?

I did indulge in a fantasy of a family home on a remote island. I guess I might get tired of having to boil water for a bath, but I'd get used to it after awhile. The beach, fishing, cooking over a propane stove, happy hour with Sancerre wine? Yes ma'am. Turns out, there really IS a Tuckernuck Island, which I find intriguing.

Bottom line, this is a perfect beach read. Pack it in your duffel, get sunscreen on it if you want, then leave it at the condo you are renting.

A word about the audio production: The narrator for this book was Denice Hicks, who is new to me. I was not altogether impressed with her narration. Her voice was almost too sticky sweet, and it never varied. She was reading for four different characters, and the vocalization never changed. This would have been one audio where four different narrators would have served well.

3 out of 5 stars


14 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

I think fluffy sounds like a good word to describe this one. Not for me :-(

Beth F said...

I usually don't mesh well with lighter women's literature. I have the audio though and thought her Castaways was good beach read.

Julie P. said...

I read this one at the pool and thought it was fun. The characters were definitely flawed and hard to relate to for me. But I still thought it was a good summer read.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I get annoyed with the practice of calling women Birdie or Chickie or other names that seem to make them less serious as people.

Zibilee said...

I don't read a lot of women's fiction or chicklit because I sort of feel that a lot of the stories tread the same ground over and over again. It's not that I have a problem with that ground, but sometimes I feel it's all a little predictable to me. I am not sure if I would read this one or not. Perhaps if the time was right, or for a summer read when I am looking for something a little lighter. Sorry to hear that the characters became a little annoying to you though!

marthalama said...

I read Hilderbrand's Barefoot over the summer. Definitely a fluffy summer read. I'll have to add this one to my beach read list.

heidenkind said...

So in the end it won you over. :)

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I love. Leave it at the condo. I read the Castwaways and passed it around. Fun, fun to talk about and easy enough to let it go.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

haha - this audio was defending itself from the start.

I had very similar feelings about THE ISLAND, Sandy. Light, entertaining .. but the narrator was a detriment. She pronounced the name of a town wrong several times (which, if I didn't know the town -> no matter ... but I did, and shouldn't that have been checked in production?!)

I really enjoyed THE CASTAWAYS, and had high hopes for THE ISLAND.

Alyce said...

Good beach reads have their place (at the beach obviously). :)

I hate it when I end up reading a book when there's something else I want to read so much more. It really does color the experience.

Jill's comment made me think of "Baby" from Dirty Dancing. It always drives me crazy that she is called "Baby."

Iliana said...

I do enjoy reading women's fiction but have to read them in moderation otherwise I may get annoyed with the emotional angst :)

I read one of her books a couple of years ago and didn't connect with the characters all that much. May try another one day.

Jenners said...

Her books just seem like "beach reads" ... maybe because of the covers and the constant beachy theme. Not sure I need to read this though.

Kathleen said...

I haven't read this author yet but have heard that her books make good beach reads!

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Definitely one that you cannot read when the weather is cold out. For some reason, I can read cold and Gothic-y novels at any time of the year, but thrust a beach setting in my lap, and I'm instantly hating everything about it if the temperature is below 75 degrees. Will postpone fluffy story until May. :)