Monday, July 13, 2009
The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
While reading "The Castaways" by Elin Hilderbrand, I couldn't help but think of the title more than one time. "The Castaways" is about a tight group of friends living on Nantucket. There are eight friends, four couples. Each character feels castaway, lost, due to the same or different circumstances. In one particular way all, Addison, Ed, Jeffrey, Phoebe, Delilah and Andrea are enduring the pain of loss, grief for one couple of the eight.
I love the way Elin Hilderbrand allowed her characters to live out days of insurmountable grief. It reinforced my feeling that grieving is tough stuff.There is so much to know about losing people we love. There isn't an exact time when the pain will end. Each person processes grief in a different way. Also, there is the single truth of not denying the fact that no one knows when or whether we will see the person we love again. On which day will these tragic circumstances happen? In which season, year? Are we ever prepared?
"Castaways" is so powerful, so real on the subject of grief. My focus became Tess and Greg's twins, Colin and Finn. In their way, they seemed to know how to make the process of loving and losing less destructive. To me, the twins seemed able to put grief, new relationships and play neatly back in compartments until needed a look at again. While the adults seemed to make everything so messy, flung together, topsy-turvey which made their suffering seem extreme and insurmountable. In some way, the adults had to be the way they were. Their lives gave me the right to cry, to lose what fork in the road to take and to show me it's never to late to recover.
I especially loved the thread of mystery running through the novel. For me, islands seem just the place for suspense and tragedy. The ocean is there. A mystery is as deep and wide as the sea. We can hear the thunder of waves and blowing of wind. It's very hard to hear the voices of those who are taken by the sea. Are they trying to tell us something? I thought of the seashell shaped like a spiral many times as I read the novel.
Like a spiral seashell, "Castaways" has many twists and turns and themes. It's about more than grief. It's about love, secrets, mistakes and friendship. There is a wide hammock in this story where anyone can find a place to rest and share the troubles of the Islanders for awhile. Hmmmm, I just thought of April Peck once again. This is a grand novel. Take it with you to the beach or on the porch and let yourself go.