Featured Story: The Castaway Hotel - Grand Reopening 1
By Bill W
Review by andy021278
Word count: 164,814
As I sit thinking about writing this review, part of me knows I will never truly be able to do Bill W’s “The Castaway Hotel – Grand Reopening” justice. On a cold Christmas morning in 2011, I finally overcame my unease about reading a story of this length and intricacy (ten books and four hundred plus chapters), but the series has been one of the best written and most heartfelt pieces of literature I have ever read. It is also a rare treat when an author, especially one who is writing for the sheer pleasure of the craft, takes the time and effort to rewrite and expand on a previous story.
The story is predominantly told from the perspective of Josh Currie, who at the start of the series is the principal of the middle school. His wife had passed away a few months before the first book starts, and owing to the size of his house, a friend suggests he open a Bed and Breakfast to help alleviate the loneliness he is feeling - having lost his wife and the fact his children are all grown up with lives of their own. That is until another friend, Sally Swarthout, who works for the Department of Social Services suggests he takes in a foster child owing to the shortage of good foster homes. Although Josh is a widower and lives alone, she feels given his experience of having raised four children and that he is the middle school principal, he is more than ready for the challenge.
Josh finally makes the decision to take in a child and we are introduced to Ricky Glover, who happens to be a student at Josh’s school – and is certainly my favourite character. We see how Josh adapts to raising, and being responsible for the life of, a child again; a child whose initial description in the book is “a whirling dervish who could only be subdued by a tranquilizer dart filled with a dosage large enough to calm a raging elephant”. Ricky is just the beginning of Josh’s new life, and while they are still trying to get to know each other better and trying to figure out how to live with each other, Josh receives a telephone call from Ms Swarthout about another boy she would like Josh to take in.
The series follows everything from the effects this decision has on Josh, to the effects it has on Ricky and others, their friends, Josh’s biological family, and the community at large. Josh also harbours a secret, which if discovered, has the potential to spell disaster not just for him, but those around him. The story takes you on a rollercoaster ride as you run the entire gamut of human emotions, and be warned the author pulls no punches; so make sure you buy an extra couple boxes of tissues.
There are a number of sexual scenes throughout the series; however, the vast majority are between loving partners and the scenes do not read as sex for sex sake. Bill has clearly conducted vast amounts of research prior to writing the series; not just into adoption, but into everything else that is featured in the series. This comes across in both the excellent quality of his writing and his attention to detail.
I’ve read a few of Bill W’s other stories and The Castaway Hotel maintains the standards of grammar, plot and attention to detail I have come to expect from this author. His scenes are full of detail and are beautifully crafted.
Giving The Castaway Hotel “10/10” or “five stars” somehow seems woefully inadequate. I will however, say that this wonderful series has replaced Jules Verne’s “Around The World in Eighty Days” as my all time favourite read. For a truly unique fostering/adoption themed story, make this your next read.