Alice's Island by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo
Atria Books: 4/16/19
eBook review copy; 400 pages
Alice's Island by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo is a so-so domestic mystery.
Alice Dupont's husband dies of natural causes, a brain aneurysm, in
his car miles away from where he said he was. Alice, soon to be the
mother of two, undertakes an investigation of her own to find out why
her husband was on the road where his car was found and where he had
been coming from before that, as he was clearly on his way home from
somewhere else. She retraces her husband's trip and finds clues that
lead her to Robin Island, a small island located near Nantucket and
Martha's Vineyard. Alice moves to the island, using her maiden name,
with her two daughters, six-year-old Olivia and infant Ruby. She then
sets out to spy on the residents of the small island in an attempt to
find out what her husband was doing and if he was cheating on her.
This is Arévalo's first novel to appear in English, so perhaps
something was lost in the translation, as far as the actual writing
goes, so I'm giving a pass to any quibbles with the writing and the
dialogue. I can say that the novel felt padded and I was losing patience
with it and Alice. The search was interminable and, well, stupid and
pointless. She wanted to know where he had been, so why not tell the
truth to people? Why make up a lie? Why move to the island and continue
lying? Why not simply tell people who you are and what you want to know?
All the bribing people, clandestine spying on people, and supposition
about what could have happened was pointless and especially trying on
Alice herself starts out as a sympathetic character. Her husband has
just died, she is close to having their second daughter, and she doesn't
know why he was in that part of the country. Then she starts to lose
credibility as her weird search for "the truth" begins along with her
needless lying. She loses all sympathy when she begins spending large
sums of money (at a conveniently placed spy store) to actively spy and
snoop on people and begins an affair with a married man. A novel with an
interesting start, tedious overly-padded middle, and uninteresting,
albeit happy, ending.
My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.