(Disclaimers: This post uses Bookshop.org affiliate links. I received a free digital copy of One Night on the Island in exchange for my honest review.)
Josie Silver’s debut novel, One Day in December, is one of those reading experiences that was so visceral, I can flash back to the actual experience of reading it, sitting there with the book in my hands and tears on my cheeks. Ditto with The Two Lives of Lydia Bird which absolutely wrecked me in the best of ways. Needless to say, I pay attention when I see Silver’s got a new book coming out.
So I was absolutely delighted to be approved for an advanced review copy of her upcoming One Night on the Island (out February 15, 2022) on NetGalley. I settled down to the reading the moment I finished my spooky book goals for October, and it was entirely worth the wait.
When I sit down to read one of Silver’s books, I’ve come to expect a beautifully crafted love story that’s not merely about two people finding one another, but are also about the journeys that those people take in and of themselves.
I love a light, fluffy rom com, but there’s something to be said for a love story with teeth, with stakes that go above and beyond “happily ever after” now and again. A love story that will break your heart and doesn’t quite promise it’ll put it back together again.
One Night on the Island is just such a story. Heroine Cleo writes a dating column in London called “Finding my Flamingo” in which she chronicles her (thus far fruitless) efforts to find her match. Her boss can tell the gig’s getting a bit stale, and Cleo is on the edge of thirty, so she hatches a clever scheme that Cleo should go off to a remote Irish island and self-couple a la Emma Watson.
Can I just say that I adore this premise? It’s still a bit weird for me to come at 30 with a wedding on the horizon, since for a long time I was very much a Cleo myself (minus being paid to write about it — damn, would it have been nice to monetize those terrible OKCupid dates). Needless to say, I connected with her character straightaway.
Alas, Silver bends to genre peer pressure in this one and we must, apparently, spend some time in the head of hero Mack, an American who’s come to the very same Island to focus on a photography project and work through the fact that his marriage is over.
Both have reason to believe they’ve got Otter Lodge to themselves, since Cleo’s got a printed reservation and Mack’s cousin owns the place. Needles to say, they don’t start off at all on the best of terms.
Due to the fact that the boat only comes once a week and there are, conveniently for plot purposes, no other lodgings on the island, they make do and decide to share Otter Lodge until the next boat arrives.
What follows is a truly deep and profound story about two people getting to know one another at vulnerable turning points in their lives. Cleo has to decide what it means to be turning 30 and realize that she’s not only not in love with her Flamingo, but out of love with her busy London life, as well.
Mack, meanwhile, must unpack the fact that his wife asked him to move out and has begun dating someone new, while trying to handle it better than his own father navigated his divorce.
In this book, Silver once again allows the story to be about more than the romantic sparks between Cleo and Mack. They each have bigger things to worry about and to work through, and that is given the space it deserves without sacrificing the beautiful connection between these characters. The result is a powerful narrative about a woman coming into her own and finding a new life, and about a man working through the end of his marriage and sorting out how to be a father without being a husband to the mother of his children.
And, yes, it also happens to be the story of how those two people wound up falling in love with one another in the midst of it all.
A truly beautiful story that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I will say the ending felt a bit fast, perhaps only because I wanted to spend more time seeing the people that Cleo and Mack became. I recommend this to those who loved either of Silver’s previous works, and to fans of love stories that let their characters be human first, and love birds second. One Night on the Island is set to release on February 15th, 2022, and is available for preorder.