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Islands

(2004)
A novel by

 
 
Publisher's Weekly
Middle-aged readers especially will warm to Siddons's 15th novel, in which a group of old friends play together, age together and endure the vicissitudes of fate. Returning to the Carolina low country where she is most at home, Siddons explores the mystique of an elite social strata whose members are held together by bloodlines, loyalty and tradition, and by the love of their city, Charleston, and the offshore islands-Edisto and Sullivan's-where they spend their leisure time. Newcomer Anny Butler, the director of a Charleston philanthropic social services agency, is accepted into the close-knit group, who call themselves the Scrubs, when she marries surgeon Lewis Aiken. Thereafter, the novel records the idyllic lives of beautiful people who have wealth, intelligence, breeding and a passion for hunting dogs. Siddons dwells lovingly on details of landscape and atmosphere, flora and fauna, home decoration, and food specialties and the bistros where they are served. Everything is picturesque to the nth degree, somewhat like a Thomas Kincaid painting. Relentlessly chirpy dialogue moves the plot along, while various illnesses and accidents take their toll on once happy couples. Lush overwriting sets the tone: one character "shone like a beacon in the great gilded room, and people flocked around her as if to a fire"; later, she is perceived as "thrumming with a kind of palpable radiance... you could almost see the dancing particles of light around her." When Siddons shows that nothing is what it seems, the revelation is almost inevitable. Yet she cannot be surpassed in evoking a kind of life peculiar to the South, with its emphasis on grace, good manners and stoic endurance. Her fans will find Siddons's narrative charisma intact and blooming. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal
Siddons's latest (after Nora, Nora) is steeped in the Carolina Low Country atmosphere for which she's famous: ocean breezes, marshes, pluff mud, and alligators. When Charleston protagonist Anny Butler marries Dr. Lewis Aiken, she becomes a member of the "Scrubs," a longtime group of friends who all have medical connections. For years, they share their free time together at a communal beach house. Then misfortune begins to plague the group, resulting in three deaths. When the story gets top-heavy with disaster, into it roars an unlikely but intriguing new character. Gaynelle Toomer, a Harley-riding, freckle-faced, enormous-breasted librarian, is hired to do odd jobs for the Scrubs. She and her seven-year-old daughter, Britney, a beauty pageant contestant regular, become constant companions to Anny's frail friend, Camilla. Camilla, the stabilizing force of this group, turns out to be not at all what she appears, making the story's end a shocker. This book is a pleasure to read and a required purchase for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03.]-Carol J. Bissett, Dittlinger Memorial Lib., New Braunfels, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Old South sensibilities, sparkling Charleston, and a group of aging socialites-all merge with an unshakable love for the land. At 35, Anny Butler is semi-committed to singlehood, happy with her job helping disadvantaged children (she's had plenty of experience, having raised her siblings while her mother drank away the days). That is, until she meets Dr. Lewis Aiken. Though both are Charleston natives, they may as well have come from separate worlds: Lewis had a boyhood of beach houses, a youth of cotillions, marriage to a beautiful, fussy wife, and weekends at the yachting club. Now divorced, popular Lewis sweeps Anny off her feet, and soon the new Mrs. Aiken meets the Scrubs. Lewis, Henry, Camilla, and Lila have been friends since their blue-blooded childhood; now nearing 50, they share (spouses come along) the beach house that they've been visiting all their lives. The Scrubs (they all have some connection to medicine) welcome Anny, and the years pass in an idyllic camaraderie (particularly poignant are Anny's reveries about the Carolina Low Country). Wealthy and pleased with themselves, the eight flit from the shared beach house to their city mansions and their old plantation homes, while occasionally doing some good charitable work. This tour of the lifestyles of the rich and unfamous holds a certain prurient interest, and, thankfully, Siddons's talent makes down-to-earth Anny's narrative likable enough despite strangely unsympathetic people (they're snobs, with antiquated ideas about race). As the years progress, tragedy threatens the unity of the group as they begin succumbing to both natural and unnatural deaths. But the indomitable (if not very nice) Camilla holds them togetheruntil the end, when the tale switches to a burning southern gothic replete with insanity, a faked illness, secret diaries, unrequited passion, and murder by fire. The inconsistency in tone at the close is disappointing, though fans will welcome yet one more exploration of American southern life a la Siddons (Nora, Nora, 2000, etc.).

Genre: General Fiction

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Hardback Editions

January 2005 : USA Library Binding
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 1-4176-6298-0 / 978-1-4176-6298-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: San Val
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April 2004 : USA Hardback
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-621111-5 / 978-0-06-621111-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Harper
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Paperback Editions

January 2005 : Paperback
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Title: [Islands] (By (author) Anne Rivers Siddons) [published: January, 2005]
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
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December 2004 : USA Mass Market Paperback
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-103205-0 / 978-0-06-103205-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: HarperTorch
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December 2004 : USA Paperback
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-079416-X / 978-0-06-079416-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: HarperTorch
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April 2004 : USA Paperback
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-059730-5 / 978-0-06-059730-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
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April 2004 : USA Paperback
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-054545-3 / 978-0-06-054545-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Harper
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Audio Editions

August 2018 : MP3 CD
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 1-72131-407-5 / 978-1-72131-407-2
Publisher: Blackstone on Brilliance Audio
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October 2005 : USA Audio edition
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Title: Islands: A Novel
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: HarperAudio
Availability: Amazon   


October 2005 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: Islands: A Novel
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: HarperAudio
Availability: Amazon CA   


October 2005 : UK Audio edition
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Title: Islands: A Novel
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: HarperAudio
Availability: Amazon UK   


May 2004 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Islands Lib/E
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-7927-3214-6 / 978-0-7927-3214-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
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May 2004 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-7927-3213-8 / 978-0-7927-3213-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Sound Library
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


April 2004 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-055457-6 / 978-0-06-055457-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


April 2004 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-055459-2 / 978-0-06-055459-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 2004 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Islands CD
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
ISBN: 0-06-055458-4 / 978-0-06-055458-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

October 2009 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Islands
Author(s): Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU