by Elin Hilderbrand

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Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316051958
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 08/02/2009
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 135,544
Product dimensions: 6.72(w) x 4.32(h) x 1.14(d)

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt


By Elin Hilderbrand

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2007 Elin Hilderbrand
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Chapter One


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.


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.

Customer Reviews

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Barefoot 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 706 reviews.
TheChicCherryBlossom More than 1 year ago
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.
BLUEEYEBE More than 1 year ago
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.
LAJR More than 1 year ago
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!
alhill04 More than 1 year ago
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.
Maria_hall13 More than 1 year ago
**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. :)
sheri869 More than 1 year ago
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.
Dawn3d More than 1 year ago
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.
meadowcrek More than 1 year ago
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!
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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....
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous 21 days ago
It started off as interesting but it was too drawn out & skipped to the end.
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FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
EXCELLENT BEACH BOOK!! Beach books should always be easy, fast reads with a great location, and good story lines. You can just smell and taste the salty beach air. It is a perfect book for a laidback, fast read with plenty of pleasure and heartbreak. BAREFOOT is great for an afternoon at your own favorite beach. As fate brought these people together, we realize that family and friends support us through everything life has thrown at us, and they give us the inner strength to move forward through life. It is a heartbreaking, beautiful story of unconditional love, hope, courage, resiliency, and survival. It has a great setting at a coastal cottage, with excellent character development that draws readers using effortless plotting from the first page of this well-crafted novel. It keeps you galvanized throughout the story, wanting more and more until the very end. Elin Hilderbrand pens the best beach books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a well written novel with some unexpected events. I liked the fact that the author did not stray too far from the story line by writing endless descriptions of scenery, etc... This was a great summer read that left me thinking and wondering about the characters long after I was finished the book!
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Thils is a little different
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