I’m always excited to read what Georgia Clark has to offer. Her books have always been interesting with a blend of fun, engaging story and serious conversations. You get a little bit of both worlds with Georgia Clark’s books and I’m excited to say that Island Time is no exception. Thanks to Atria Books for the gifted read.
Love is in the salty sea air in this smart and steamy ensemble romantic comedy set in a tropical paradise, from the author of the “sparkly and entertaining” (Oprah Daily) It Had to Be You. This is one island you won’t want to be rescued from.
The Kellys are messy, loud, loving Australians. The Lees are sophisticated, aloof, buttoned-up Americans. They have nothing in common…except for the fact that their daughters are married. When a nearby volcano erupts during their short vacation to a remote tropical island off the coast of Queensland, the two families find themselves stranded together for six weeks.
With only two island employees making up the rest of their party, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want. Island Time is a sumptuous summer read that dives deep into queer romance, family secrets, ambition, parenthood, and a bird-chasing bromance. This sexy, sun-soaked paradise of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforest will show you it’s never too late to change your destiny.
I went into this book thinking it would be a departure from Georgia Clark’s normal repartee of stories. It’s supposed to be a rom-com about two families who are literally stranded on an island together. The Lees and the Kellys were two imperfect families come together through their daughters’ marriage and hoping to celebrate the next phase of their life. But it was obvious after the freak tsunami/earthquake/volcano eruption that there was much more going on beneath the surface of both of these families.
The driving force of this novel were its characters and there were a ton of them. Not only did you have Matty and Parker making their final decisions on moving to Sydney from New York, but you also had Matty’s younger sister, Amelia, and her parents, Glen and Jules. Then you had Parker’s mother and father, Ludmila and Randall, who also had their fair share of secrets and character development to run into throughout the story. Plus, the island’s caretaker, Liss, who wanted to escape her life (and her ex, Sofia) in Montreal and Jarrah, a local man who loved to immerse himself in the Aboriginal culture and world that he was born into. Yep, it’s a lot of folks and I think the only person who really didn’t have any change or development was Randall, Parker’s father.
Everyone else, well, they had their own thing going on. From both Matty and Parker’s careers on the brink of a huge change to their decision to have a child to Jules and Glen’s separation they haven’t told their daughters. Then there was Ludmila who’s change I personally didn’t see coming and was pleasantly surprised by. And Glen trying to find himself while Jules trying to get laid by Jarrah. And then Amelia and her recent run-in with Liss. There was a lot of ground to cover, which definitely added to the bulk of this novel.
On top of what’s happening in everyone’s lives, there was also a deep examination on Australian nature and ecosystem. I loved this part because I know little to nothing about Australia and learning more about the culture (both naturally and the history of the Aboriginals) through a digestible package like a contemporary story made me want to visit. I don’t want to encounter any spiders the size of a dinner plate, but the way the author incorporated the pieces of her homeland into the story made it feel like such a love letter.
I think one of the benefits of Georgia Clark’s writing is that she covers everything. She will get into making the decision to have a baby with every single emotion and thought that goes into it. She will tell you the background of how Aboriginals were cast out by the English settlers. She will go through every nuanced emotion a young person may feel when they’re falling in love. She does not quit. But I felt like in this particular book, there was just too much. With each character having a unique experience and development to the island itself, there was a lot of information to juggle and a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied up. I think Georgia does a great job pacing herself to wrangle all of these bits of information together, but I also feel like if she stuck to a few topics rather than each character having some sort of identity crisis then it wouldn’t have felt like an undertaking of a story to complete.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the heck out of this novel. I loved the characters (especially Glen for some random reason), I loved rooting for them and following them through this very strange season of life, and I loved how they all made the best of their time stuck on a stranded island together. If you’re a fan of literary fiction with a slow burn, then I highly recommend this book to you.
Overall, this is the beach read for those who don’t like beach reads. The romance is very light with a couple of open-door scenes, but the main focus was this family, their identities, and who they will become after they get off this silly island.