Barefoot: A Novel

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Overview

Three women arrive at the local airport, observed by Josh, a Nantucket native home from college for the summer. Burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues, the women— two sisters and one friend—make their way to the sisters' tiny cottage, inherited from an aunt. They're all trying to escape from something: Melanie, after seven failed in-vitro attempts, learned her husband was having an affair, and then discovered she's pregnant; Brenda embarked on a passionate affair with...

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Barefoot

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Overview

Three women arrive at the local airport, observed by Josh, a Nantucket native home from college for the summer. Burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues, the women— two sisters and one friend—make their way to the sisters' tiny cottage, inherited from an aunt. They're all trying to escape from something: Melanie, after seven failed in-vitro attempts, learned her husband was having an affair, and then discovered she's pregnant; Brenda embarked on a passionate affair with an older student that got her fired from her prestigious job as a professor in New York; and her sister Vicki, mother to two small boys, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Soon Josh is part of the chaotic household, acting as babysitter, confidant, and, eventually, lover.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hilderbrand's sixth novel heaps on the trauma as a substitute for realistic connection in this heady mix of beach house, cancer, affair and mom lit. Connecticut housewife Vicki, diagnosed with lung cancer, has packed up her two kids for a chemo-commuting summer at the family's Nantucket cabin; sister Brenda, a newly minted high-powered assistant professor, has just been fired for having an affair with one of her students; Vicki's best friend, Melanie, newly pregnant, has discovered her husband is cheating. The three hit the tarmac of the tiny island airport, where they run into home-for-the-summer Middlebury senior Josh Flynn, who has a summer job there that he hates. Hardened cliché Brenda pines for her stereotypically weathered Australian lover. Melanie is a chronic complainer until she romances grim aspiring writer Josh, whom she has run into again and brought on as the house babysitter. (Josh thinks his old girlfriend should "locate her center" and "operate from a place of security.") Of the three women, only the suffering, stubborn Vicki, who keeps a list of "Things That No Longer Mattered" and cries when she can't seduce her visiting husband, draws readerly sympathy. There are some tender moments in Hilderbrand's latest beacher, but others are as irritating as sand in your swimsuit. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket. Hilderbrand's saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she's fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie's husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he's believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki's bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death. Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand's hands it's easy to get lost in the story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316371551
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 66,569
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her five previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

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Read an Excerpt

Barefoot


By Elin Hilderbrand

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2007 Elin Hilderbrand
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6


Chapter One

JUNE

Three women step off of a plane. It sounded like the start of a joke. Joshua Flynn, age twenty-two, native of Nantucket Island, senior at Middlebury College, summer employee of the Nantucket Memorial Airport, where his father was an air traffic controller, noticed the women immediately. They arrived on a US Airways flight from LaGuardia. Three women, two small children, nothing unusual about that, so what caught Josh's eye? Josh Flynn was a creative-writing student at Middlebury, and his mentor, the writer-in-residence, Chas Gorda, liked to say that a writer smells a good story in the air like it's an approaching storm. The hair on your arms will stand up, Chas Gorda promised. Josh checked his forearms-nothing-and tugged at his fluorescent orange vest. He approached the plane to help Carlo unload the luggage. Josh's father, Tom Flynn, would be at a computer terminal five stories above Josh's head, occasionally spying out the window to make sure Josh was doing what he called "a decent job." Being under surveillance like this provided as unsettling a work situation as Josh could imagine, and so in the two weeks he'd been at it, he'd learned to sniff for stories without giving himself away.

Two of the women stood on the tarmac. Josh could tell they were sisters. Sister One was very thin with long light-brown hair that blew all over the place in the breeze; she had a pointy nose, blue eyes, and she was visibly unhappy. Her forehead was as scrunched and wrinkled as one of those funny Chinese dogs. Sister Two had the same blue eyes, the same sharp nose, but instead of scowling, Sister Two's face conveyed baffled sadness. She blinked a lot, like she was about to cry. She was heavier than her sister, and her hair, cut bluntly to her shoulders, was a Scandinavian blond. She carried a fl oral-print bag bursting with diapers and a colorful set of plastic keys; she was taking deep, exaggerated breaths, as though the flight had just scared her to death.

The third woman teetered at the top of the steps with a baby in her arms and a little boy of about four peeking around her legs. She had a pretty, round face and corkscrew curls that peeked out from underneath a straw hat. She was wearing jeans with muddy knees and a pair of rubber clogs.

The sisters waited at the bottom of the stairs for this third woman to descend. Heavy-breathing Sister reached out for the baby, shaking the keys. "Come to Mama," she said. "Here, Melanie, I'll take him." In addition to the baby, Straw Hat held a package of Cheez-Its, a green plastic cup, and an air-sickness bag. She was two steps from the ground when the little boy behind her shouted, "Auntie Brenda, here I come!"

And jumped.

He was aiming for Scowling Sister, but in his excitement, he hurtled his forty-some pound body into the back of Straw Hat, who went sprawling onto the tarmac with the baby. Josh bolted forward-though he knew he wouldn't be quick enough to save anyone. Straw Hat covered the baby's head with her hands and took the brunt of the fall on her knees and her left arm. Ouch.

"Melanie!" Heavy-breathing Sister cried. She dropped the diaper bag and raced toward Straw Hat. The baby wasn't making any noise. Neck broken. Dead. Josh felt his spirit trickle onto the tarmac as though he'd wet his pants. But then-a cry! The baby had merely been sucking in air, released now in heroic tones. The baby was alive! Heavy-breathing Sister took the baby and studied him for obvious injury, then shushed him against her shoulder. Scowling Sister approached with the perpetrator of the crime, older brother, clinging to her legs.

"Is the baby okay?" Scowling Sister asked. Her expression shifted from impatient to impatient and concerned.

"He's fine," Heavy-breathing Sister said. "Just scared." She reached out to Straw Hat. "Are you okay, Melanie? Are you okay? Do you feel okay?"

Melanie dusted the tarmac grit off her face; there was a scrape on her elbow, some blood. The Cheez-Its blew off down the runway; the plastic cup rolled to Josh's feet. He picked it up, and the air-sickness bag as well.

"Would you like me to get a first-aid kit?" he asked Melanie. She put a hand to her cheek, and the other hand massaged her stomach. "Oh, no. Thank you, though. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" Heavy-breathing Sister said. "What about ...?" "I'm fine," Melanie said.

"Blaine will apologize," Heavy-breathing Sister said. "Apologize, Blaine."

"Sorry," the boy mumbled. "You could have hurt your brother. You could have hurt Melanie. You just can't do things like that, sweetheart. You have to be careful."

"He said he was sorry, Vick," Scowling Sister said. This was not joke material. The three women, collectively, were the most miserable-looking people Josh had ever seen.

"Welcome to Nantucket," Josh said, hoping his words might cheer them, though Carlo was always reminding him that he was not an ambassador. He should just tend to the bags; his father would be watching.

Scowling Sister rolled her eyes. "Thanks a lot," she said.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand Copyright © 2007 by Elin Hilderbrand. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 699 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(229)

4 Star

(248)

3 Star

(144)

2 Star

(43)

1 Star

(35)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 701 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

    This was my first novel by Elin Hilderbrand. It was a bit hard to get into at the beginning, but I read on nonetheless. Soon the pace picked up and I became attached to the story and characters. Each of them comes from a different background and stage of life, yet they all share the common thread of being in the midst of a journey to grow and find themselves despite the challenges they're facing.

    It was easy to get emotionally invested in each of their stories, and I found myself not wanting to put the book down because I wanted to know how it would all turn out. Wrought with real emotion, genuine love, and heartbreaking circumstance, I think you would be hard pressed to find yourself disappointed in this one. A light summer beach read it is not; instead, it quickly establishes itself as a more serious story that leaves a warm feeling behind at its conclusion.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Best yet from Hilderbrand

    This book gave me much to think about. I was a bit of a skeptic given that I have been disappointed by Hilderbrand's books in the past. But in this book, you truly feel as if you know these characters, and you get caught up in their emotions. Hilderbrand gives you ups and downs throughout the entire book through romance, sickness, etc. When finished with the book, you are left with a sense of completion and not having to worry about wanting more. Definitely a worthwhile read especially if you are looking for a book to bring on a trip, or just to pass the time. An easy read, so it seems to fly by.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Enjoyed!

    I became immersed in this story of these very interesting, complex women and the major man, not to mention the two little children. Reading about Vicki's cancer had me physically going through it with her. I found the characters so multi-dimensional that I felt as if I knew them.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    READ IT!

    I glanced at the detail of this book because the price was low. At first I didn't want to read it but I decided to give it a go on my NOOK. All I can say is GREAT! This book is a definite keeper and re-read. There are some serious topics that make you think outside of the box. I also learned a lot on various subjects. The characters pull you in and you are able to identify with some part of each one. Even the philosophical parts held my interest and made me want to know more. I was very pleasantly surprised!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2010

    Great first read of Hilderbrand, although it made me want more

    **SPOILER ALERT** This is the first novel I have read of Elin Hilderbrand's. And to be quite honest, I loved it. It took a few pages to keep the 3 women from getting mixed up, but once I got to the 3rd page I felt like I knew them. Josh was my favorite character, he reminds me of my best friend, the guy next door, etc. As the story went on, I didn't want to put it down, I had to force myself to finally go to sleep. I finished it in about 3 days, and the only thing I can say that was a dissapointment was that it had me wanting to know more. Did Melanie end up staying with Peter or did she finally leave him and fess up that she really loved Josh? Did Brenda ever get her screenplay into a movie and did she ever get another job or get married to Walsh? I know Hilderbrand doesn't writing sequels, but I wish she would for this one. :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 19, 2010

    Wonderful Read!

    I was in visiting Boston and happened into a wonderful little store where they showcased authors I'd never read before. This being one of them. I absolutely LOVED this book and her writing style. I've already started my next book from Hilderbrand. The characters and the story Really find a way into your heart. I don't tend to be a fast reader but I flew through this book in a couple of days and then wished it wasn't over! Though, I will say, though the end was somewhat of a happy ending it did leave me feeling like it was a little unfinished. Or maybe I just wanted more of the characters and their story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    Dramatic read

    This story was much more dramatic than I thought it would be. A great book about the bonding of sisters and friends during some traumatic times in each of their lives. The three ladies go to Nantucket for the summer to "escape" their troubles for a while, but of course nobody really escapes from trouble. The new relationships and bonds that are formed and how the characters all grow and transform make for very moving and enjoyable reading. I know when I am enjoying a book when I read and don't notice time flying by and this book did just that for me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    Great Summer Read

    I was surprised with the book and the engaging characters. I did not expect to become so enthralled with their outcome, I planned this to be just a light vacation read. The plot twists of their ordinary lives when faced with extraordinary circumstances is a must read. The ending is not expected and it leaves you wanting to know more about how their lives went on. It was nice to take a break to a vacation spot via the characters and enjoy the time frame of a long beach resort summer. I would recommend this offbeat romantic escape for all and consider this a must read for the beach or a rainy day!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Great Beach Read

    I picked this book up because every now and again, I need to pick up a light read to bring me up a bit. Well, this story isn't the lightest to read as far as topics are concerned as it deals with cancer, infidelity, etc., but it is one good book to read quickly. It was easy to connect with the characters, and the storyline truly had you cheering for everyone. I highly recommend it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2008

    Women and Relationships and relationships with each other

    I usually like non-fiction, but I thought I would try this for the summer. It was a great summer read. I could almost smell the air. It reminded me of Sex and the City. Especially the Brenda/Samanth, Melanie/Charlotte connection. I am now looking for another book by the same author to finish the summer off.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    Slow to start, but worth it...

    I'm an avid reader and typically read a book within a couple of days. I began this book and found myself struggling to get into it. After reading about 70 pages, I put it down. Some three weeks later, I found myself spending 12-13 hours a day at the hospital with a family member, so I decided to bring the book one day. I'm so glad I did! I finished it in a day and a half and found myself wanting more....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    Wonderful!

    Its nice to find a novel that is not only enjoyable and light in reading, but also holds much meaning. The characters are well developed and leave you wondering inbetween sittings what could possibly happen next. You will find your self indentifying with them and hoping the best works out for them. If you are familiar with Nantucket this is a wonderful story and if your not it will make you yearning to go.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    Home for the summer, Middlebury College student Josh Flynn meets the two siblings (Brenda and Vicki) and their friend (Melanie) at the Nantucket Airport where he works. The three females and Vicki¿s two young children will share the small cottage owned by their late aunt while escaping their woes and hoping to regain some equilibrium in their respective lives.---------------- Vicki suffers from lung cancer and will undergo chemotherapy. Brenda recently was fired for breaking the prime directive of college professors when she had an affair with a student albeit older than her. Finally, Melanie who spent years and tons of money seeking to become pregnant finally succeeded only to ironically learn her spouse is cheating on her. These BAREFOOT females spend the summer of self recrimination with Josh at their side wondering what fall will bring.------------- This deep character study will hook the audience who will want to know what is happening to each of the women. However, at the same time that contemporary fiction fans will appreciate the drama, only Vicki elicits empathy as she philosophizes about what used to be significant to her but those 'Things That No Longer Mattered' once she received the medical verdict Melanie seems more like a whiner who drove her spouse elsewhere and though realistic Brenda comes across as a hard butt with a chip on her shoulder. Still genre fans will enjoy spending a Nantucket summertime with Elin Hilderbrand¿s three females.--------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This was an enjoyable read. As women (as humans) we form relati

    This was an enjoyable read. As women (as humans) we form relationships of all kinds. Relationships, whether spousal, familial, friend, or lover, create the drama that is life. Relationships make us happy and sad; they fulfill us and they break us; they are temporary or they are lasting – no matter, we learn from them all. This story is about 3 women and how their relationships have, are, and will affect their lives. The critics may call it whiny, annoying, drama, etc., but it is a pleasure to meet these characters and walk in their shoes, if only for a little while. They all handle their situations differently because of their personalities and their stage in life, but each character is developed with a depth that really gets to the center of each one. The book is worth the read; you’ll be concerned about these characters and how they are doing after you close the back cover. Enjoy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Anonymous

    An awesome story about friendship,sickness and love. This book locks the reader in using raw emotion. The women come to life and it was so easy to relate to them. Highly recommend!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Great Book

    I highly recommend great book.

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  • Posted April 23, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book, the characters and storyline, great

    I really enjoyed this book, the characters and storyline, great book. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    Great Summer read

    Truly enjoyed this book. I could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    A wonderful and heartwarming book!

    I couldn't put this book down! A great read that makes you happy, hopeful, and cry all ay the same time! I higlu recomend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2012

    Great story!

    What a wonderful story! The story brings you into their lives right from the start and you grow with them. Very enjoyable and recommend

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