Audiobook Review: One Night on the Island

Published August 6th 2019 

Author: Sarah Henning

Narrator: Eleanor Tomlinson & Davis Brooks

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 21 minutes

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Day in December . . . When a double-booking at a remote one-room cabin accidentally throws two solace seekers together, it feels like a cruel twist of fate. But what if it’s fate of a different kind?

Spending her 30th birthday alone is not what dating columnist Cleo Wilder wanted, but she plans a solo retreat – at the insistence of her boss – in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some self-care while she figures out the next steps in her love life and her career.

Mack Sullivan is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul-searching has brought him to the same Irish island to explore his roots and find some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both have reserved the same one-room hideaway on exactly the same dates.

Instantly at odds, Cleo and Mack don’t know how they’re going to manage until the next weekly ferry arrives. But as the days go by, they no longer seem to mind each other’s company quite as much as they thought they would.

One Night on the Island is my second read by Josie Silver after enjoying One Day in December. The title does not fully capture the story as the characters are together on the island for the entire month of October. I guess it could be interpreted as the one night of them meeting is what changes everything, but it is not the first thing that comes to mind when looking at the title. The story is also labeled as romantic comedy and was a great example that there needs to be another label that captures the same thing while also leaning more towards women’s fiction. The novel contained both romance and many humorous moments but had a much larger focus on the main characters’ own emotional journeys compared to a focus on the romance.

The story follows a lifestyle writer, Cleo Ward, who lives in London. As she is approaching 30 and single, her boss comes up with the idea for Cleo to use this time to “marry herself” as part of a new assignment. I do wish that the story went into more about this assignment as it does not seem feasible that a magazine would spend this type of money for a single potential article. There is a larger emphasis on the milestone that is turning 30 throughout the story. While I am sure there are a huge number of readers that can relate, I personally never saw 30 this way as it is just another number with no special meaning. Now there are other reasons for why this time has a lot of meaning to Cleo, but it does initially seem it was just the number. This part was well-done and very heartfelt, and I like that it became more than what it seemed. When Cleo arrives at Otter Lodge on Salvation Island off the coast of Ireland, things do not go as smoothly as planned as there is another guest booked for the same time.  Mack Sullivan, an American photographer from Boston, is hoping for this trip to the island is a good time to get away and deal with everything going on his life. He is currently experiencing issues with his wife, and it looks like they are heading for divorce, which is not only hard on him, but also their two children.

While I love stories like this, I am not fully on board with Mack’s relationship status at the start. For Mack, his relationship status is that he is estranged from his wife, not legally separated and not dead set on the relationship being over, so he is not completely available when he begins interacting with Cleo. For these reasons, I had to block this aspect out of my mind as it took a lot away from my enjoyment of the story. For me, I would have liked Mack to be a little further along in the separation process. This complex relationship status did add some nice realism to the story as lives are not straightforward, so I can see why the author may have written his character this way. There may be many readers that did not that mind his status, but it just was not for me.

As individual characters, I loved their journeys and what each of them were going through. Their situations were different and that is reflected in their healing processes. Mack not only is dealing with the fallout from his marriage, but he has his children to think about along with these growing feelings for Cleo, who happens to reside in a different country. I enjoyed how the fact that each character is not from the same place was explored as it felt realistic where there is no straightforward answer on how to make this type of relationship element work. Although I was not a fan of the initial circumstances for the romance, Cleo and Mack did share a lot with each other and had a great connection. The setting of Salvation Island was ideal and made me want to book a trip there, or even to a similar small island, ASAP as it sounds like an idealistic place to go. Overall, this story was sweet and heartfelt, and I greatly enjoyed the premise. While some elements were not entirely for me, I do continue to enjoy the author’s general style and will read more of her works in the future.

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