The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is an engrossing read that pulls you in from the first sentence and doesn’t let go. Colleen Oakley’s latest novel is full of flawed yet relatable characters in a unique and vividly described setting.
Piper Parrish loves her husband, Tom; her island; and the sense of community she’s found with both. Piper and Tom are school-aged sweethearts, recently married and living a life full of love in their quaint carriage house. When Tom’s boat capsizes, shockwave are sent through the small island community where everyone knows everyone else. When the grief-stricken widow Piper begins talking to Tom as if he’s still there, the townspeople go along with it, pretending to see him, too. When journalist and would-be podcaster Anders steps off the ferry to do a small fluff piece on Frick Island for his newspaper, at first he only sees a slowly dying community. But as he digs to uncover what exactly is going on in this tight island community, more than one secret may get dredged up.
Colleen Oakley consistently creates a memorable and unique cast of characters. While Piper, Tom, and Anders are all well developed in their own rights, its the highly developed side characters that make this novel even more memorable. From the gruff ferryman to the owners of the island bed and breakfast to Anders’s coworkers at the newspaper, each character is fully fleshed out and realistically rendered. This makes dialogue and internal monologues flow smoothly and keeps the reader fully engaged and encompassed in the story.
The setting of Frick Island, based loosely off of Smith Island, is a character unto itself. With the receding shoreline, dingy marina, and zany cast of characters who live there, Frick Island is an odd mix of wild and domesticated that perfectly suits the story set there. It’s the kind of place you fantasize about living, with cozy wintry nights spent building puzzles and lazy summer afternoons laying in the bright sunshine on a beach you have all to yourself. This idyllic imagery is tempered with Anders’s modern day frustrations dealing with an unreliable ferry and no cell signal, creating a perfect atmosphere for this compelling story.
As the story unfolds and the reader learns the hidden histories of these lovable if wacky characters, the town’s acceptance of the invisible husband becomes more understandable. This highly quotable novel is full of empathy, tackles grief realistically, and shows the true meaning of community.
Fans of Liane Moriarty, Sophie Kinsella, and Jenny Colgan are sure to love Colleen Oakley’s books full of wonderfully developed and highly lovable characters in compelling situations.