Sunday, September 8, 2013



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…

Paperback320 pages
Expected publication: September 3rd 2013 by Berkley Trade
eArc received from publisher via NetGalley

Where to find Little Island

Where to find Katharine Britton: 

Our Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It's not full of fireworks or smut or crazy angst; instead it's full of tiny little revelations. Revelations that many of us can take to heart.

Right? I really like these stories that are a chronicle of a dysfunctional family, because who doesn't relate to that. We also discussed the melancholy feeling that was a major undertone from the beginning, and I was glad that this was not a deterrent to how much I enjoyed the story.

The story encompasses the story of the Littles and how one tragic accident emotionally stunted the siblings and damaged trust with their parents.It's also the story of the matriarch and her struggles to come to terms with the life and death of her mother on the weekend of her memorial service.

At first it was hard to get to know these people. The girls were in seeming competition for their brother and parent's attention, with Joy usually on the losing end. I loved the aspect of all of the twins in the family. Each generation had a set, and it seemed like a major theme in how we relate to one another. The twin relationship had a profound effect on Tamar and every choice she ever made so it is interesting to think about! 

Our two main narrators, Joy and Grace, tell us most of the story but Tamar and Roger and Gar pop in to give us their POV's too. Joy is struggling with her newly empty nest, Tamar is coping with a failing marriage, Roger is trying to overcome decades of being blamed for the accident, and Grace and Gar are learning how to live the last parts of their lives. It's told in a series of flashbacks and present tense to help us understand how we got to where we are on this particular weekend. Each of these characters offers insights and frustrations and hope and by the end of the novel they each have grown and had their own epiphanies about how things could move forward for them.

I felt connected to Joy and Grace the most, and now that you mention it, they do narrate the story the most. It took me a little while to get used to having five narrators, but without it the story would not have been as rich. Understanding the motivations behind all of their decisions was definitely a huge part of how I felt by the end. The things they realized at the end of this weekend spent together that they hadn't been able to discuss for twenty years was incredible. I wish they had spoke sooner, but everyone was intent on not rocking the boat and disturbing their messed up existance in fear of making things worse. 

As a mother and a daughter I had appreciation for the feelings of guilt, frustration, and love that each of these women felt. I loved that by the end of the novel the steps to healing and bonding were being made and that even though there were still many things to be resolved each of our characters seemed to be in a better place, mentally, than they were when they started.

I share your feelings about how much of a great mother/daughter book this is! I'm not a mother, but I have great yet different relationships with my mother and grandmothers (and with a step family..I have a lot of grandmothers!). I took away from this how glad I am that I have pretty great communication with my family..and well since we're all pretty opinionated not much goes unsaid...Another thought I always have is how much of our parents lives before ours do we not know? This is a theme for each generation here, and something Joy and Grace really struggled with. 

This was a sweet novel; a nice time out from the angsty crazy stuff we read on a weekly basis.

The meaning behind the flowers, by the water, have fun brought tears to my I am really, really glad to have read this book. It hit the mark! 

Shelley: 4 1/2 Stars
Courtney: 4 Stars

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