Nights of Rain and Stars starts off on a, well, fiery note. A boat has crashed off the course of Aghia Anna, a small vacationing island in Greece. Dozens of people have died, and those that survived take refuge on the island and to elder Andreas' nice little diner.
The last time I read a book with this sort of shape, I read A.J. Hartley's What Time Devours. Remember the lousy rating I gave it? It still had the occasional action scene and had a lot, if not too much information on old literature, and this book has neither of those. That book was about a man's quest to find a long lost Shakespeare play, and a sequel to a tragedy at that; an artifact that would revolutionize the world. The reason this is better than What Time Devours is because it doesn't promise something big like that. If it promises big and they go big, that's usually a win. If they go small and then go big, another win. If it promises big and goes small, it's a loss. So what's a small and goes small? Well, it's actually not that small at all when you realize it's all about the individual characters that meet up at Andreas's lovely restaurant. German Elsa has an ex-husband named Dieter and a career that's literally chasing after her. David has a dying father way back at home. Thomas is having troubles with his son Bill who he never properly socialized with (and I know from experience how that can be a bit dramatic) and remember; this book was published in 2004, before Facebook was accessible to anyone with an email. Vonni is all of a sudden wondering, after being with all these different people, what her drive is, or was, and what should be. Trust me though, when I say this is not everyone's cup of tea. There was no reason behind the explosion, no mystery to how it started, and apart from these short-lived strangles, there's no violence of any kind. The drive for every character is very understandable, and my favourite little drama issue was Fiona's. She loves her husband Shane and forgives him enough to, well, love him no matter what, and after what is to her but to only her a misunderstanding, she thinks about staying at Aghia Anna till Shane is able to be bailed from prison. Fiona gets issues with just about every islander, of how they're keeping things from her and Vonni sees differently. If there was a main character in this flick (and I now take back what I said about 95 percent of books having just one protagonist; let's make that like, 70 percent) it's Vonni. Her back story is engaging to the characters and to us, just enough for me to forgive the fact that the last few pages can be a bit screwy and tiring. If this was marketed as a thriller, this wouldn't have left a good taste in my mouth like it did, though. The main thing here is, there's about half a dozen different stories being told here without focusing on a main one, a way to fill up the pages to almost four-hundred and make sure every, ahem! adult author can find a story they can relate to.
The book works, mostly because there are characters you can actually tell apart. It reminded me of how stale the characters in What Time Devours and a lot of other adult books are like; the ironic thing was, these characters were put in so much development there that I lost track of who was who, some of the names and eventually what they even did, and I didn't feel much reason for waitresses to be described like they'd all become the clan of Frodo Baggins while we were on the hunt for a lost Shakespeare play. Anything short of finding it and getting it out to the public ends up a letdown in that department, big time. In these character dramas, there's not really anything to be disappointed about, because the book doesn't set itself up to be about anything more than just what it is; the world's most emotional book club.