Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors has a unique premise among books set in World War Two. After the medical ship Benevolence is torpedoed and sunk in the South Pacific, nine people make it to the shore of a nearby island. There was only supposed to be one: the one who betrayed the ship to the Japanese who sank it.
This is a book about relationships above all else. The captain, Joshua, and his wife Isabelle, both have survived, but has their relationship? The large crewman Jake and Ratu, who was a stowaway, find in each other a relationship that neither realized was missing in their lives. And all of the castaways must come to terms with the gentle Japanese prisoner of war, Akira, who recites poetry but whose past is filled with horrific war atrocities. Do they allow him to become a valued member of the group as they await rescue, or should they continue to treat him as the POW he truly is?
This is a wonderful book though a bit slow at times. The ending leaves you wondering what happens next...some of the relationships obviously need more explanation. Be prepared to have a box of Kleenex nearby as the story progresses, and treat yourself to Shors' rich language and a gorgeous setting fraught with hatred, humanity, and love.
My amazon review (much fuller in length and explanation) can be found at http://tinyurl.com/64hff8. Please visit and vote if you are so inclined.