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Castle of Water: A Novel Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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“Castle of Water is a unique, inventive exploration of love, loss, and survival. The novel's two characters, lost and alone on a Polynesian island, must rely on each other when the world has forgotten all about them. Castle of Water is a compelling portrait of what it means to be rescued--both literally and figuratively―by hope, ingenuity, and love.” ―Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale
"Far more complex than any given deserted island tale, Dane Huckelbridge has written a moving, harrowing, and downright literary novel in which even the inevitable comes as a surprise. Castle of Water will lift spirits and break hearts. I did not want this story to end." ―Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment
"Brilliant, clever, riveting―pick your adjective, they all apply. But do pick up Castle of Water, just be careful when you pick it up. For Huckelbridge has spun a yarn that is sure to cost you sleep while you race to the remarkable end. It's that good." ―Thomas Christopher Greene, bestselling author of The Headmaster's Wife
About the Author
DANE HUCKELBRIDGE was born and raised in the American Middle West. He holds a degree from Princeton University, and his fiction and essays have appeared in a variety of journals, including Tin House, The New Delta Review, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. Castle of Water is his first novel, although he has also authored two historical works on American whiskey and beer, respectively. He lives with his wife in Paris, France, and New York City.
Top customer reviews
There isn’t much I can say about the plot of Castle of Water without giving away too much. On the surface, this is a book about two people who wash up on the same deserted island after their charter plane is struck by lightning and crashes into the ocean. Barry is a banker from New York who has quit his job to pursue his dreams of being a painter, and Sophie is a French architect on her honeymoon. The book follows their journey as they learn how to survive, mentally and physically, alongside one another. Beneath that surface, however, is a massive tidal pool of emotions.
This book does something that always equals magic for me, in terms of writing–it provides the perfect balance of humor, heart, heartbreak, and creative writing decisions that worked. The plot summary of this book might make some readers think it’s a serious survival story; however, make no mistake–this book is funny. From Barry’s constant forgetfulness in regard to his contact lenses (to which anyone who wears contacts can relate) to the sarcastic quips Sophie delivers to him, I found myself chuckling throughout the book. Barry’s sense of humor and near-constant joking not only helped provide a nice break from the constant underlying tension that exists in any survival tale, but they were also perfectly contrasted against Sophie’s critical and aloof personality. As for Sophie, her initial coldness toward Barry, although a bit understandable after what she experienced during the crash, had me feeling very frustrated with her in the first part of the book. I really believed that I was going to hate her character, but just as Barry goes through an emotional journey and becomes much more than a jokester, so does Sophie. Having a front-row seat to witness that journey is absolutely the best part of this book.
However beautiful the heart of this book is, the writing is just as beautiful. Dane Huckelbridge has a way of writing that doesn’t feel cliché or overdone in any way. Balanced against the humor and sarcasm lie statements such as “He recalled the night skies above his grandparents’ farm in Illinois; the way the Milky Way made a shimmering ribbon above the frozen prairie had been more than enough to stir a boy’s wonder and put an ache in his soul.” Immediately after funny quips, there were lines like “The fact that they loved each other ceased to be an improbable oddity and instead became as natural and reliable as the rains.” And spread throughout the book are second-person interjections that help explain any possible plot holes, such as why search parties never came near Barry and Sophie. Those interjections tend to come across as cheesy attempts at creativity in other books, but there is nothing cheesy about Dane Huckelbridge’s mastery of the technique in Castle of Water.
Dane Huckelbridge has crafted more than a simple castaway story. By the time I finished Castle of Water, I was absolutely in love with Barry and Sophie, and I was genuinely heartbroken that there was not more of their story to read.
Definitely recommend for a beach book. I can only imagine that a little sand between your toes as you read would enhance the experience.
*OK, no volleyballs named Wilson, but there is an octopus named Balthazar, which is pretty good.
As others have noted it is in a sense a classic castaway story and the fact that the two castaways fall in love is predictable enough. But the writing is so pitch perfect and the story takes enough unpredictable turns that you just can't help but experience an emotional journey in reading this book.
The story has broad appeal, to both men and women and old and young alike. If you're reading this review just buy and read this book. I promise you will be glad you did.