It’s not altogether surprising that Good Charlotte’s song “Lifestyles of the rich and the famous” is in my head as I type this review. Harrison Young’s novel Nantucket describes a lifestyle most of us can only imagine – private jet planes, unlimited money, beautiful holiday houses on exclusive beaches … It’s a world where the stakes are high and the expectations higher. Here’s the blurb:
The Big Chill meets Wall Street as the rich and beautiful come out to play, each with something to hide. Andrew and Cathy are famous for their luxurious Nantucket parties. Billionaires only on the guest list, with their gorgeous, ungovernable wives by their side. When two mysterious business men – one an American engineer, the other an Indian prince – are invited to the island, a series of intriguing and scandalous events ensue, changing the lives of the guests forever. It only takes forty-eight hours in Nantucket for everyone to reveal their secrets, succumb to new ideas, propositions and partners.
What happens in Nantucket stays in Nantucket. Or does it?
For those who love getting swept into a world belonging to the rich and beautiful, Nantucket does exactly that. However, from the first sentence, the book foreshadows that it might not be what readers expect: “If the weekend was music, it was a dazzling improvisation…”. It’s a great first line and it sets up a stage where nothing goes according to script, the stage manager is missing, the understudy is calling the shots, the actors are all ad-libbing and the props are whatever first comes to hand. When Andrew’s wife Cathy goes missing just before “two billionaires and their seriously beautiful wives” get off a plane in Nantucket, there’s no way of knowing what the weekend will bring.
Nantucket is a clever novel that explores the improvisation every one does, or is capable of doing, in their daily life, whether by donning a mask or new persona, or adapting to changes as they happen. It’s a story of buried desires, of truth coming to light, and of freedom, for the latter is something each character desires in one way or another, even if this is not overtly expressed. There are links to Shakespeare’s The Tempest made by various characters – I’m not going to analyse that in depth, but the house the couples are in can be seen as a sort of magical island where shackles (of responsibility, sexuality, marriage) are broken down.
The world is not my world, the people not my tribe. In many ways I found it hard to relate to the characters. However, the writing is clever and the underlying themes (if not the characters’ actions) were engaging. One for those fascinated by the rich and famous.
Read a free sample here.
Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Ventura Press.
For more of Monique Mulligan’s writing on books, check out Write Note Reviews
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television