And so it came to pass that two utterly disparate lives happened to overlap ... bound together on an uninhabited island some 2,359 miles from Hawaii, 4,622 miles from Chile, and 533 miles from the nearest living soul.
I don’t take rating lightly, readers. It takes a lot for me to give five stars. Castle of Water hits all of the checkboxes for me:
Need I say more?
Our two castaways, Sophie Ducel and Barry Bleecker, seemingly have nothing in common at the beginning of the novel. Sophie is mourning the death of her new husband who died in the plane crash. They were on their way to French Polynesia for their honeymoon. Barry is very single and was using the trip as a new beginning: a life away from his career in finance and a transition into fine art.
Sophie’s thick French accent is only the first barrier they must overcome. They must try to find shelter and food beyond the hundreds of bananas on the island. As days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months, the two become friends. They bond over a persnickety octopus (nicknamed Balthazar) who just won’t let Barry catch any fish. The two share the story of their lives before the crash and fantasize about what they will do if they ever are rescued.
There’s no question that these two are destined to fall for each other, but the way in which Huckelbridge weaves their story together is electric. At one moment, they hate each other and the next they can’t live without the other. Like I said before, these characters are relatable, realistic, and just plain funny.
If you are a fan of French culture or the French language, you’ll have some extra treats for you sprinkled in throughout the story. Sophie is French and can’t help but slip in some French phrases from time to time. I have never studied French, but the inclusion of these passages was not overwhelming or disheartening. In fact, I think it helped me connect with the story a bit more because I spent the time to look up the translations. Don’t worry if French isn’t your thing though. You don’t have to go down the rabbit hole of Google Translate like I did to enjoy this book.
Castle of Water is a book I had been anxiously waiting to pick up because it has received such high praise in the book world. I hoped it would live up to expectations, and it certainly did. I urge you to add this to your list. Add it to your holds at the library. Run out and buy it. Do whatever you can to read Castle of Water. It’s funny, poignant, mesmerizing, and heartbreaking all in a short 288 pages. Maybe you’ll be left wanting to hug the book at the end, just like I was.
TL/DR: Castle of Water is the book to read this year. A traditional castaway story that will leave you crying both happy and sad tears.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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