Brilliant Beach Book - Unless you're Stranded on it!
Stranded - Emily Barr
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Stranded - Emily Barr
Advantages: Easy and engaging read, cleverly written
Disadvantages: A had a few niggles regarding the conclusion.
I had read one of Emily Barr's previous novels (Baggage) some years ago and been impressed with her writing. It was always in the back of my mind to read something else, but despite my good intentions, I never quite got round to it. I rectified that recently when I read her latest novel 'Stranded', on the recommendation of a friend.
Esther Lomax is newly divorced. She has done nothing of significance with her life apart from marry a man who wasn't really suitable and have a lovely daughter. She decides now is the time for a bit of adventure and books a trip to Malaysia, which includes a stay on a group of paradise islands. Malaysia is where we first join Esther, as she finds her way around Kuala Lumper and to the islands. Alongside Esther we read about another lady called Cathy, and hear her story told in the past. I will say no more about that element of the story, but it keeps you guessing as to the possible connection between the two characters. Whilst on her island, Esther and some of the other guests sign up for an 'unofficial' boat trip organised by one of the staff at the resort. He leaves them on a paradise beach and pops back for a lighter to light the barbecue. He never returns.
I really liked how the 'stranded on a desert island' aspect was dealt with. It wasn't romanticised - people were hungry, thirsty, ill, tearful, optimistic, pessimistic and everything in between trying to come to terms with their situation. Their circumstances seemed to be handled realistically and their theories as to why they were stranded seemed viable. They certainly matched with my own expectations and opinions. However as they stayed there longer, these theories no longer held water and factions formed in the group as some became more resigned than others to their plight. We learn a bit more about the other people on the island, but we do not get soul-searching, clichéd back-stories. This is a suspense book and you have no more idea how the book will pan out, than the fictional characters within its pages.
I have deliberately kept the plot aspect of this review vague, so as not to spoil it for anyone. Looking back over what I read, now I know the outcome I realise how clever Ms Barr was in her clues and signposts. I did not guess the final outcome, although I had plenty of theories. If I was to be picky (and I will be), there were aspects in the conclusion that I found a tad too far-fetched and thought the ending got slightly rushed. That aside I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I couldn't wait to pick it up in the evening, and at the same time I didn't want to put it down, which says a lot about the calibre of the story and its writing. It is not a heavy or deep read, in fact it is a very easy read, plus it is also engaging and gripping, as well as a good mystery. It would certainly make a good beach read, but I don't recommend taking it on a boat day trip as you will be reluctant to get off the boat!
As I was reading this I thought it worthy of the full five stars, but I am deducting a star for my quibbles regarding the conclusion. The RRP is £7.99 but offers can be found on Amazon and other sites. It is also available in kindle format and audio form.
Summary: A Great Holiday Read