The Invisible Husband of Frick Island about a widow having PBHE- Post Bereavement Hallucination Experiences after her husband’s death and a journalist/podcaster trying to understand why whole town was going along with her delusion. It was wonderful, heart-warming, emotive fiction with unique premise and realistic plot and characters.
The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley
Publication Date : May 25th 2021
Publisher : Berkley
Genre : Women’s Fiction / General Fiction
Pages : 368
Sometimes all you need is one person to really see you.
Piper Parrish’s life on Frick Island–a tiny, remote town smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay–is nearly perfect. Well, aside from one pesky detail: Her beloved husband, Tom, is dead. When Tom’s crab boat capsized and his body wasn’t recovered, Piper, rocked to the core, did a most peculiar thing: carried on as if her husband was not only still alive, but right there beside her, cooking him breakfast, walking him to the docks each morning, meeting him for their standard Friday night dinner date at the One-Eyed Crab. And what were the townspeople to do but go along with their beloved widowed Piper?
Anders Caldwell’s career is not going well. A young ambitious journalist, he’d rather hoped he’d be a national award-winning podcaster by now, rather than writing fluff pieces for a small town newspaper. But when he gets an assignment to travel to the remote Frick Island and cover their boring annual Cake Walk fundraiser, he stumbles upon a much more fascinating tale: an entire town pretending to see and interact with a man who does not actually exist. Determined it’s the career-making story he’s been needing for his podcast, Anders returns to the island to begin covert research and spend more time with the enigmatic Piper–but he has no idea out of all the lives he’s about to upend, it’s his that will change the most.
USA Today bestselling author Colleen Oakley delivers an unforgettable love story about an eccentric community, a grieving widow, and an outsider who slowly learns that sometimes faith is more important than the facts.
*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publicist at Berkley. ***
The Invisible Husband of Frick Island was bittersweet fiction that revolved around a widow hallucinating her dead husband and a journalist/podcaster trying to understand why whole town was going along with it. Story was about bereavement, impact of environment changes on island, community, love, family, and hope.
Writing was beautiful, captivating, emotive and steady paced. It pulled me into the life of characters from the very first page. It was written on third person narrative from perspective of Piper and Anders.
I loved the premise and plot was well written with so many surprises and drama. It started with a storm in which Piper and the island lost her husband and their beloved waterman. They recovered Tom’s trawler but not the body. Piper had hard time accepting his death and started having PBHE- Post Bereavement Hallucination Experiences after two weeks. Islanders didn’t have heart to tell the reality and went along with her hallucination out of love.
Anders had big dreams of working with big newspaper on big story when his first series of podcast in college got popularity but that was only one series that got him viewers and now, he worked on trivial news with small newspaper, Telegraph. When his boss sent him to cover Frick Island’s cake walk and returned, he had no intention of going back to this small strip of island that didn’t have cell tower or internet.
But then he received a tip telling he missed biggest story on the island. On visiting the island again, he discovered about Piper’s hallucination and town’s willingness to supporting her delusion. He made it into a podcast series and to his surprise it took off.
It was interesting to find out what happened to Tom, when and how Piper started hallucinating, why Islanders were going along with it and not seeking help from professional therapist on mainland, and what he will discover on digging deeper into life of Piper and islanders, what will happen when they discover about his podcast?
All characters were realistic and relatable. I enjoyed reading about secondary characters. Anders colleagues, his family and Piper’s mom, Tom, Islanders and their characteristics. I found myself root for all of them along with main characters.
Anders was my favourite character. At first, he had single vision of becoming successful journalist, working with big newspaper. He saw Islanders’ crazy idea of pretending Tom was alive as successful and unique story for his podcast. He was persistent and ambitious person. He lied to islanders for getting information. But as he spent more time on island he realised and feared the consequences of his lies and even tried to come clear. He was lovely person. Poor guy said sorry so often just for offering to help people. His development was great. I loved how he finally got courage to be truthful, understood love of his step-father, and stopped saying sorry for being nice. I enjoyed reading about Anders’ podcast- What the Frick– and how it grew gradually. His passion for it, making it success was relatable.
Piper was kind and sensible person when it came to accepting climate change and doing something about it. Her loss and grief were touching and I felt for her. But she wasn’t as innocent as she looked. She gave hard time to Anders and then what she was hiding was just unbelievable. Her secret was shocking. But like Anders said she was forgivable, no one can stay angry with her and when she explained her actions, I could understand her.
Setting of Frick Island, Anders’ podcast and Piper and Tom’s past were best in the book. There were intermittent past chapters that revealed Piper and Tom’s relationship and they also mislead me a lot. I didn’t expect it to create so much suspense. It made me believe whole different thing and hard to see what was coming next and what was Piper’s secret.
Frick Island was amazing. It was based on Smith Island on the Chesapeake Bay. This small dry island where there was no phone or internet with small close-knit private community, peaceful but hard simple life made it unique. I enjoyed reading in author’s note about Smith Island and how unlike this story people are more aware about climate change and are ahead in their work on preserving and protecting their island.
There were many layers and messages in the book. It was great to read how climate change its impact on island was represented, importance of working on making it safe place and also preserving its uniqueness. Loss, grief and hope was heart of the story. Story also told about not making assumptions about any one and any place, it’s okay to accept help when needed, and about mental health- how important it is to talk about it and get proper help. I liked how PBHE was represented in this book. I haven’t heard about it before and I liked reading details about it.
Anders and Piper’s growing feelings for each other made it even more interesting. I didn’t see twist and turns coming. As I said those past chapters were quite misleading and I was forming totally different hypothesis. When the truth was revealed, I was shocked. Climax was dramatic and exciting. I was expecting that reaction from islander and even Piper. I loved Anders’ growth and what he finally decided to do. End was perfect and lovely.
Overall, The Invisible Husband of Frick Island was wonderful, heart-warming, emotive, and insane fiction with unique premise and realistic plot and characters. If you love this genre, setting of close-knit community on small island with many layers and mental health issue, I highly recommend this book.
About the Author
Colleen Oakley is the USA Today bestselling author of You Were There Too, Close Enough to Touch and Before I Go. Her books have been named best books by People, Us Weekly, Library Journal and Real Simple, and have been long-listed for the Southern Book Prize. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, four kids and the world’s biggest lapdog.
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