Bleh. I actually really liked Josie Silver usually so this was kind of a huge disappointment. I think I was expecting the complete wrong thing, but on top of that, it wasn’t good at being what it turned out to be. I’m going to stop speaking in code now and just tell you what’s up…
As one of her writing assignments, journalist Cleo is sent to the remote island of Salvation, Ireland to “marry herself” on her thirtieth birthday. Already feeling annoyed and out of control, she’s even more upset to find that the cabin she rented has also been rented by American photographer Mack, who traces his roots back to Salvation and is here to see the land for himself. With neither budging or willing to leave, they share the cabin and continue to get on each other’s nerves.
Meanwhile, they’re both falling hard for Salvation. The tiny island of one hundred residents has a natural beauty and an incredible kinship neither have ever felt – Cleo lives in London with the hopes of making her dreams come true, and Mack has had his marriage on pause for over a year. What will the island teach them about what’s happening in their own homes?
So, based on the description of this book and the reviews I saw, I assumed this was romance. I guess I kind of assumed that about The Two Lives of Lydia Bird as well, but this one especially. I purposely wrote this description so you would not confuse it as romance. I definitely would not actually classify it as such. This is definitely more in the “contemporary fiction” side of things, and not good contemporary fiction either. The characters fell flat or were borderline annoying, and a lot of the plot elements were unnecessary to the story.
I immediately bristled when I discovered that Cleo was British. Every time I read a British book or it has British characters, I find myself increasingly frustrated by the frivolity and harshness of them. Especially in contrast to the nice, Irish folk who live on Salvation, Cleo really starts out hard to like. She snaps at Mack unnecessarily, and acts like a princess who cannot be bothered to do things for herself. I’m glad to see there’s some character growth by the end of it, which I think is due in part to the island changing and shaping her character. I think Cleo does go through a transformation, compared to Mack, but I think what Silver is not doing is drawing direct comparisons and lessons from the plot. That lacking component makes the book, and each little piece of it, feel near pointless.
This ending? Also sucks. I know I’m picky, but I can’t stand stuff like this. It reminds me of A Lot Like Adios and I’m not here for it. I get that life is messy, and life should inform art…but I like when there’s a clear direction and a happy bow to tie it all together when I read. I didn’t even know how I wanted this to end, as the reader, but this wasn’t it. It felt open ended and depressing; I would not be satisfied with it if I were the character, and shouldn’t you want the best for your characters?
The only bright spot in this whole book was the island. The landscape and the people of Salvation were the best part of this book. The supporting characters were lovely and warm, and I wish I could’ve read about them instead. Delta and Barney, especially.
I think this turned me off to Josie Silver in the future. While I loved Lydia Bird, both synopses have felt a bit like a bait and switch in a bad way. I’m all set with that.
Have an awesome weekend!