Book Review: The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: The Island
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2010
Hardcover: 416 pages
ISBN: 978-0316043878
Genre: Fiction

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From the Publisher:

Birdie Cousins has planned a getaway with her daughter Chess on rustic, charming Tuckernuck Island off the coast of Nantucket, a chance to bond before Chess’s upcoming marriage. Birdie’s been through a difficult divorce herself, so she knows the big commitment that marriage entails. She’s only recently dared to tiptoe back into the waters of romance.

When Chess abruptly breaks off the wedding and her fiancé shockingly dies in a rock climbing accident, it leaves Chess feeling guilty and deeply depressed. Birdie circles the wagons, convincing her younger daughter Tate, and her own sister India to join them on Tuckernuck for the month of July. Secrets and intrigue soon make their way to the surface, as Elin Hilderbrand once again weaves a masterful story of summer suspense.

My Review:

The Island by Elin Hildebrand is a month-long soap opera in written form, about four women, their secrets, desires, insecurities and hidden passions. Birdie is divorced and concentrating on her daughter’s upcoming wedding when she begins to date Hank, who happens to be married yet they both feel it is fine since his wife has Alzheimer’s and is in a special facility. Birdie’s sister India enjoys imbibing as well as a good joint, has a high opinion of herself and her three brilliant sons and believes her success is not a result of her famous husband’s suicide 15 years ago. As of late India has been posing for Lulu, an art student and a relationship is forming. Tate, Birdie’s youngest daughter is successful and while she acts quite arrogant, she is insecure and jealous of her older sister Chess. Chess, Birdies oldest daughter unexpectedly cancels her wedding because she is in love with her fiancé’s brother, she quit her job, moved home then learns Michael fell to his death while rock climbing in the Moab. Chess goes into a depression and the women decide it is time for a month-long vacation at their ancestral summer home, Tuckernuck off the island of Nantucket to give Chess some time to heal. Little do the other women realize just how badly they all need this vacation.
If it sounds as though I gave the entire story away, fret not, I merely skimmed the very tip of the novel and have saved all the best parts for the reader to discover. Hilderbrand alternates the narrative in the four voices of the women, opening a window into each woman’s point of view, in a manner that is easy to read and allows the reader to get to know each woman as individual. The women reveal to each other their secrets, dreams, and desires. The relationship the women have is one I cannot fathom and while the characters are richly and vividly described I truly did not relate to any of them. While I do not personally care for the term “chick-lit”, this is exactly the type of book that comes to mind when I hear the term. The Island is a quick paced novel that is never dull. If one is looking for a novel filled with drama, romance and female bonding, The Island may indeed be the perfect summer read.

About the Author:

Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, PA, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her eight previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

I received a complimentary copy of The Island by Elin Hilderbrand from Reagan Arthur. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.


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  1. I just finished this one last night and I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more than you did!

  2. I've only read one Elin Hildebrand novel and I really enjoyed it. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one too. Julie added your review to the challenge blog.

  3. I am going to have to read this author soon. I like women friendships books, but not so much the romance – depending on the book.

    • I think my opinion of The Island may be in the minority. I just did not care for the characters. I am looking forward to reading The Castaways as her books are widely popular.

  4. Soap opera is the perfect term to describe. I thought it was weak and felt that the author must’ve been paid by the word – with lists and descriptions that did not add anything to the story. So why did I finish it – I was interested to find out how she wrapped up the story which was totally predictable. Don’t bother to try it unless you’ve read every other good and worthwhile book that’s out there and there’s nothing left.