Hilderbrand's fifth book is a fulfilling tale of familial excavation and self-exploration. Marguerite is a lonely chef on Nantucket Island who hasn't cooked for anyone since she sold her restaurant 14 years ago, following the death of her best friend Candace and her own brief stint in a psychiatric hospital. A quirky, endearingly insecure recluse, Marguerite is startled from her solitude by a late-night phone call from Renata Knox, whose question, "Aunt Daisy?" sends Marguerite scrambling to come to terms with her past. Nineteen-year-old Renata is Candace's daughter and Marguerite's estranged goddaughter, visiting the island with her wealthy fiance. The novel takes place over the day Marguerite spends preparing a meal to welcome Renata, whose own problems include an overbearing mother-in-law-to-be and an incomplete sense of her own mother. Desperate for nurturing and guidance, Renata turns to Marguerite, the woman who knew her mother best-and whom Renata has been forbidden to see most of her life. The story is crafted as expertly as Marguerite's dishes, seasoned with well-measured flashbacks and convincing details of island life and the restaurant business. It's a refreshing, resonant summertime treat. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Here's a classic beach book with a summer locale (Nantucket), a sanctified dead mother, a child searching out the mysteries of her past, impossibly attractive and/or wealthy cast members, and some love and sex thrown into the mix. Renata is just 19, lovely and mostly innocent, but, impetuously, she has become engaged to Cade, a preppy child of Nantucket, and so they travel there to meet his rich parents. Over the course of one (very long) day, she arranges to meet her godmother, whose involvement in her mother's death when she was a tot has caused her father to forbid Renata from ever meeting her. Godmother Marguerite had a sumptuous restaurant on the island that was abruptly closed when Renata's mother was struck and killed by a drunk driver while jogging, and that story is very slowly revealed in flashbacks. A good page-turner that doesn't involve too much effort on the part of the reader.-Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In Hilderbrand's fifth Nantucket novel (The Blue Bistro, 2005, etc.), a vacationing college student arranges to meet with her mysterious godmother, a former restaurateur of renown, to learn more about her dead mother. Despite ambivalence, 19-year-old Columbia sophomore Renata has become engaged to Cade. While visiting his wealthy family at their Nantucket summer home, she calls her godmother Marguerite and arranges to have dinner. Renata wants to know more about her mother Candace, who died on the island 14 years earlier. Renata does not realize that Marguerite was so overcome by guilt and despair after Candace's death that she had a psychotic break, sold her very successful restaurant and has been living for years as an island recluse. The novel follows Renata and Marguerite's lives hour by hour throughout the day leading up to the dinner Marguerite prepares for them. While shopping for the meal, Marguerite visits key people from her past who force her to relive what happened years earlier: how she met her long-time, part-time lover Porter, and through him his half-sister Candace, who became her dearest friend; how Candace fell in love and married Dan, owner of the Beach Club; how they had Renata and moved away; how in a moment of despair after Porter's final rejection, Marguerite declared her love for Candace; how shortly thereafter Candace was hit by a drunk driver while jogging. Meanwhile, Renata is struggling against Cade's insufferable mother and against her own attraction to the handsome houseboy. She calls her father to announce her engagement, subconsciously knowing Dan will come to the rescue. He does, but not before Renata has come face to face with near tragedy and run away toMarguerite, leaving Cade's engagement ring behind. Dan, Marguerite and Renata finally reunite, truths are told and old wounds healed. Less chick-lit beach read than old-fashioned Joan Crawford tearjerker.
“In a juicy peach of a summer tome, Hilderbrand again alchemizes her three favorite elementsfood, love, and Nantucketwith eminently readable results….Season is so gratifying.” Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A-)
“[S]ummer fare that's a cut above the usual beach provisions...Hilderbrand, who wrote 2002's Nantucket Nights, serves up a mouth-watering menu, keeps the Veuve Clicquot flowing and tops it all with a dollop of mystery that will have even drowsy sunbathers turning pages until the very satisfying end.” People Magazine
“Hilderbrand's fifth book is a fulfilling tale of familial excavation and self-exploration….It's a refreshing, resonant summertime treat.” Publishers Weekly
“Hilderbrand's sensitive portrayal of a young motherless woman on a journey of self-discovery, and her guilt-ridden godmother's attempt to find the courage to confront the past, is very moving.” Booklist
“A good page-turner.” Library Journal
“As a storyteller, Hilderbrand ranks among the best, and she has ingeniously constructed this foray into the past around a meal….This is a don't miss novel.” The Star-Ledger (Newark)