A Day At the Beach: The Love Stories of Elin Hilderbrand
I was excited to read this week that one of my favorite authors, Elin Hilderbrand, has five new novels planned, including her first “fall/winter offering” WINTER STREET coming this October, and then a summer novel every year until 2018. There’s something about Elin Hilderbrand’s books that make them impossible to put down. The characters pull you in, and each novel (every one set on the island of Nantucket) has an exquisite sense of place and offers perfect escapism. I’ve loved them all, but my top three are:
The Island (2010, Little Brown) – My favorite of the bunch, this novel starts with a wedding – a cancelled wedding. And it just gets better from there.
Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess’s lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she’s cancelled her engagement.
It’s only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she’s embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store – a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.
But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known.
Silver Girl (2011, Little Brown) – My first Elin Hilderbrand novel, this is the story of a woman in a Ruth Madoff-like predicament:
Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing – because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars. Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie’s had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can’t offer complete escape, and they’re plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie’s brother Toby – Meredith’s high school boyfriend – arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.
The Castaways (2009, Little Brown) – The most “plot” driven of her books, this one focuses on a group of close-knit friends, and the secrets that are revealed when one couple drowns in a boating accident. For newcomers to this author, I would probably start with one of the others first because this novel is probably the most atypical. Still, compulsively readable:
Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy’s closest friends for what will be revealed.
Do you have a favorite Elin Hilderbrand novel?