I was not a fan of romances. If you had asked me a year ago, if I read romances, I would emphatically deny. But in the midst of the pandemic and at the urging of my podcast co-host, I decided to read romances. And I am so glad that I did. If you follow the FBC blog, you will notice some of our post on romance, like the one on the problems with romantic tropes.
Gradually I realized that if men read romances, then maybe there might be more equality and understanding between the partners (case in point- Pride and Prejudice). I read Josie Silver’s One Night in December last winter and I enjoyed it. Steadily, I started reading more romances. However, one thing that I truly believe is the universe will give you a book when you need it. For example, One Night on the Island by Josie Silver. I read it when I was going through some really deep and dark relationship problems. And I found parts of myself in Cleo Wilder, Mack Sullivan, and even his wife, Suzie.
One Night on the Island is about Cleo and Mack. Cleo, from London, is a dating columnist who wants to find her flamingo as flamingos apparently mate for life (like beavers and gibbons). For her thirtieth birthday, her editor sends her to a remote island where she will live alone for a few days, marry herself, and be her own partner, similar to Emma Watson’s proclamation that she is self-partnered. Mack, from Boston, is a photographer, married with two sons. However, he is going through some marital issues and wants a break to discover the island that his maternal grandmother described him to in his childhood. Due to a misunderstanding, both Cleo and Mack end up reserving the only cottage on the island, Salvation Island, and have to stay together. The story is about how they navigate this situation, how they have a micro-relationship (similar to a holiday romance but no expectations after that), and how they both come to a beautiful agreement at the end of the novel (yes, it obviously has a happy ending, it is a romance).
Apart from the love story, the novel also shows what happens when people take difficult decisions and how that affects family members. What happens when two people are at different points in the same relationship? How does one stop loving a person or realize that you won’t be able to love anyone else with the same intensity? I enjoyed the different questions that Silver explores.
The other two themes that I liked about the novel-self-love and sisterhood. Cleo grows in the novel while realizing what she wants and what she doesn’t want. Her vows on her thirtieth birthday/self-wedding day are beautiful and can serve as a guideline for many of us, especially me, who struggle with being our best friend and biggest cheerleader. Also, Cleo becomes a part of the knitting group comprised of the women on the island. I wanted to be friends with them by simply reading their descriptions. They take care of Cleo; are friendly with and protective of her; and truly love, support, and comfort her. Reading about them is like a warm hug. Start this book for the love story, and stay for the sisterhood and self-love.