The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

HarperCollins | 2021 (18 March) | 400p | Review copy and Bought copy | Buy the book

The Castaways by Lucy ClarkeSisters Lori and Erin have always been close, supporting each other through the loss of their mother, living together, holding each other up. When Lori’s marriage ends very unhappily, she books a dream holiday island-hopping in Fiji for herself and Erin. But one evening in the hotel emotions pour out and the sisters fight. When Lori flies to another island the next day, she’s on her own. Erin refuses to go with her. So when the small plane vanishes, Erin is tormented by memories of their last words to one another. Two years later, the pilot is discovered in Fiji, living under an alias. Erin heads back to Fiji, to the same hotel, determined to discover the truth.

The Castaways has a fantastic premise, not to mention an exotic tempting location, and it is such a fun read. The novel’s narrative is divided between ‘Erin now’ and ‘Lori then’ as we witness what happened aboard the plane and during its immediate aftermath and in the time that has passed as Erin tries to discover the truth and deal with her guilt. While we know a little more than Erin due to the book’s structure, the big mystery of those missing two years looms over the novel and I was desperate to know what happened.

The crash scene makes for traumatic reading and I have now started to rethink my dream holiday of island hopping in Fiji… Lori’s tale in the aftermath of the crash is riveting and dramatic while Erin must untangle a mystery. Both elements are compelling. The weaving together of past and present works well and the novel is very atmospheric as the two sisters, in their very different environments, reflect on their relationship, their dependence on one another and being apart. It is poignant and very sad at times.

While I thought that the conclusion fell a little short, I enjoyed The Castaways very much and read it in a day, something that I don’t do too much these days. It is very hard to put down.

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