If you’ve ever looked out of a plane window while flying over the ocean and shuddered to imagine dropping out of the sky, Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebrige will bring those visions to life.
Barry Bleeker has just quit his job in New York City finance to pursue art full time, and Sophie Ducel is a Parisian architect on her honeymoon. When their single-engine Cessna 208 crashes in the middle of the South Pacific, they are the sole survivors, two strangers who become stranded on a deserted island that is as beautiful as it is treacherous.
To survive, Barry and Sophie must recreate civilization from scratch—collecting clean water, hunting for food and building shelter—which is fascinating in and of itself. But the heart of the novel is the friendship that develops between Barry and Sophie amidst unbearable loneliness, near starvation and terror of never being rescued. Both characters are deeply flawed and profoundly likeable.
The story is told in mesmerizing prose “amid the blue honey water and white sugar sands.” Huckelbridge expertly uses nature and color as characters. We witness a “cotton candy-colored sunrise,” “a flamboyant, sorbet-shaded sunset” and the moon as “a pearly chaperone.” Insert an animated gif of me wiggling my fingers with unrestrained excitement.
Ultimately the book reminds us that even at moments of maximum crisis—companionship, optimism and love can restore us all. Best paired with a starchy bunch of bananas, a gulp of fresh rainwater and zero packages of astronaut ice cream.