Eleanor is still stricken with guilt over an accident that took her sister's ability to walk many years ago. She doesn't wear the guilt on the outside, but rather forces herself to remain in her mother's home, helping to care for her sister all these years later, despite being incredibly unhappy and feeling stuck in a life that isn't at all her own.
When Eleanor's boss offers her a chance to earn extra money and spend some time away from her home on the island she loves, Eleanor accepts. She begins spending time with Helena, an elderly woman suffering from her own deep demons. The pair form a bond almost instantly -- though neither will admit enjoying the other's company -- and each start the healing process they've needed for so very long.
I have a confession to make. I went into this book thinking it would be a nice, quick read for those busy days spent on the deck with Elliott, but would lack the need to really think about the story. For whatever reason, I thought it was "fluffier" than it turned out to be and I ended up getting a total book reality check! I loved the plot, the setting, AND the characters, making this one of my 5 star books of the year and I can't seem to hand it to enough people this week.
I've never been to Edisto Island, but apparently it's a real place and I felt completely transported by White's beautiful descriptions. There was a depth to Eleanor that I found both haunting and lovely and that same depth of character was mirrored in Helena. Finding out bits of Helena's story was part of the intrigue and I appreciated learning a bit more about the Hungarian side of WWII.
Even Eleanor's sister Eve, despite her obvious flaws, was a character that I loved getting to know and could see her perspective on things. Each character was detailed, complex, and perfect for the story, making for a really great read. I loved it!
Thanks to Penguin for the review copy!