Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Island / by Elin Hildebrand

It's the event Birdie Cousins has been waiting for: her daughter Chess (Francesca) is finally getting married. Everything's been planned for the day of the wedding. All the elegant, lavish plans are set in motion for the refined ceremony and subsequent celebration to be held at the family's Nantucket island home with funds provided upfront by Chess's father/Birdie's ex-husband Grant. Then the bottom falls out. First Chess calls her mother to tell her she's broken off her engagement to heartthrob fiance Michael Morgan for no apparent reason other than prenuptual jitters. Next, Chess quits her prestigious editing job at a major lifestyle magazine, and then Michael himself dies tragically in a Rock climbing accident; the mini-vacation with his brother Nick was supposed to be a way of taking his mind off his recent heartbreak. Chess is now more than just a mess; she's become a wreck of emotional guilt and depression, pushed to drastic extremes like shaving her head and holing herself up in her apartment permanently.
Birdie's unsure of what action should be taken--Chess has always been the responsible, got-it-together girl. Other than enlisting the aid of her second, younger daughter Tate, it's hard to think of the right thing to do. Finally Birdie decides a family retreat is what's needed. Mom and both daughters will spend a month long holiday on the same Tuckernuck Island beach house where the wedding ceremony was to take place. Birdie's sister India, an artist-socialite who's overcome the vast tragedy herself with the suicide of her celebrity sculptor husband, will complete the party.
This is Hilderbrand's latest in a long line of successful "beach reads", all of which have been set in and around the same Cape Cod region where she and her family live year-round. The Island reads pretty much like the cover looks: everything's nice and non-threatening. Everyone is well-off and well-settled, if not downright rich and famous. Stuff happens for a reason with personal growth and lessons learned by all in the end. It's easy to get into the characters, all of whom are sympathetic in their own way, exuding warmth and positive qualities in nearly all situations. And Hilderbrand's language and prose moves things along at a pleasant pace. It's the kind of "never-never land portrait"* of life that can't help but find an audience. (FIC HILDERBRAND)
*Publisher's Weekly

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