Saturday, October 5, 2013

Little Island by Katharine Britton

3 Star

By the water
Have fun! 

These are Joy’s grandmother’s last words—left behind on a note. A note that Joy’s mother, Grace, has interpreted as instructions for her memorial service. And so, the far-flung clan will gather at their inn on Little Island, Maine, to honor her.

Joy can’t help dreading the weekend. Twenty years ago, a tragedy nearly destroyed the family—and still defines them. Joy, Grace, her father Gar, and twins Roger and Tamar all have their parts to play. And now Joy, facing an empty nest and a nebulous future, feels more vulnerable than ever to the dangerous currents running through her family.

But this time, Joy will discover that there is more than pain and heartbreak that binds them together, when a few simple words lift the fog and reveal what truly matters….

Kathryn - 3 Star

Little Island is a finely weaved but thoroughly complicated set of layered emotions. I found it initially difficult to get attached to any member of the Little family, which was unfortunate, because the story held so much promise. The delay in attachment was probably because they were all introduced a little bit at a time I didn’t immediately find any of them interesting so I was worried about the rest of the novel.  However, I pushed myself to keep reading and discovered that Britton had indeed written a novel with depth of character and a very intriguing plot.

The Little family is so consumed by the tragedies of the past that they’re carrying around a load of baggage, it was hard to feel like there would ever be a light hearted moment and yet we were encouraged to believe that there used to be family warmth between them. The easiest character for me to relate to was the mother, Grace, as she was obviously grieving the death of her own mother and clearly needed time and space to process her loss and try to envision the next stage of her life without her support system- Britton’s development of Grace was the most understandable for me, and I really liked her husband too.

The children- Joy, Roger and Tamar are all very tough to love though. Joy is lost as her only child is leaving for college and she can’t fathom what to now do with her life.  Roger is getting over several addictions it seems and can’t stay on track and Tamar is just completely self-absorbed. I was so angry reading Tamar’s portions of the novel that I started skimming her sections.  Her poor daughters were literally abandoned repeatedly and I just couldn’t take it.  I wish her husband had been given more of a voice in the novel- perhaps it would have explained more about Tamar’s lack of interest in her twins?
Had I been given each person’s introduction more concisely from the start I’d probably rate this one a 4 star just because the story was well told (if a little drawn out) but the characters were, on the whole, not very likeable so I just couldn’t warm to them as much as I would have liked.

I wish the family secret had been let out earlier in the story, the Little’s could then have had a chance to put themselves back together and I would have had time to love them.

Thank you to Berkeley Trade  for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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