Hilderbrand's (Barefoot) charming, poignant 13th novel chronicles what happens after a woman's true love returns to her 27 years after they've agreed to no longer be in touch. Born with the ability to discern whether a couple is a perfect match or doomed to fail, Nantucket girl Dabney Kimball Beech knew from the moment she met high-school sweetheart Clendenin Hughes that they were meant for each other. Sadly, ambitious Clen was also destined to have a case of wanderlust that would lead him to a reporter job on the other side of the world. Pregnant with his child but terrified of leaving the island after a childhood trauma involving her resentful mother, Dabney tells a reluctant Clen that she needs a clean break. When Clen shows up in Nantucket, Dabney is plagued by ominous spells of pain and weakness that she attributes to being lovesick. Now the mother to a grown woman named Agnes, Dabney can see that her daughter's fiancé, C.J., despite being generous and charming, is also a controlling and ill-tempered poisonous match. Dabney's sweet husband, Box, seems to like him, but Box, a famous economist, is generally oblivious. Often away in Cambridge tending to teaching duties at Harvard, he hasn't had a physical relationship with Dabney in a while. Dabney begins a bittersweet affair with Clen while trying to urge her daughter away from C.J. Agnes, home for the summer, teams up with pal (and potential match) Riley Alsopp to get to the bottom of things after noticing her mother's suspicious absences. Hilderbrand's narrative is thoroughly readable, with likable heroes and believably despicable antagonists. One misstep is the downer ending; though you see it coming, it still feels like it belongs in another book. Despite this, Hilderbrand's story is an engaging read. (June)
Praise for BEAUTIFUL DAY:
"A perfect summer read."
Hilderbrand's latest Nantucket heroine has a very particular kind of clairvoyance: She can always tell whether a couple is compatible or not.Dabney Kimball Beech, 49, who heads up Nantucket's Chamber of Commerce, is known for her headband, pearls, penny loafers and other preppy accoutrements, as well as her fabulous menus for tailgates and picnics. Then there's her track record of spotting perfect matches: If a couple is suited, she sees pink around them; if not, green. So far, her unerring intuition, augmented by artful introductions, has resulted in more than 40 long-term Nantucket marriages. As the wife of John Boxmiller Beech, aka Box, a Harvard economics professor who's frequently summoned to the Oval Office and whose benchmark textbook nets about $3 million a year, Dabney's domestic life is serene—except that she's never gotten over her high school sweetheart, Clendenin "Clen" Hughes, a Pulitzer-winning journalist whose beat has been, until recently, Southeast Asia. Due to a childhood trauma involving a runaway mother, Dabney has been too phobic to leave Nantucket (except for four years at Harvard). Nearly three decades before, unable to follow in Clen's globe-trotting footsteps, Dabney banished him from her life and from the life of their daughter, Agnes, who's never met her father, though she knows who he is. Now Clen is back on Nantucket—minus an arm. Agnes is engaged to the uber-rich, controlling and decidedly unclassy sports agent CJ. (This couple is definitely swathed in a green cloud.) Since Box is teaching in Cambridge during the week, the opportunity to resume an affair with Clen proves irresistible to Dabney. The complications mount until, suddenly, Hilderbrand's essentially sunny setup, bolstered by many summer parties and picnics (and lavishly described meals, particularly seafood), takes a sudden, somber turn. Hilderbrand has a way of transcending the formulaic and tapping directly into the emotional jugular. Class is often an undercurrent in her work, but in this comedy of manners-turned-cautionary tale, luck establishes its own dubious meritocracy.Beach reading with an unsettling edge.
Praise for BEAUTIFUL DAY:
"A perfect summer read."Ladies Home Journal
"A wedding readers won't be able to resist crashing."Kirkus Reviews
"Hilderbrand's latest is the perfect beach read....[her] straightforward style pulls the reader into the minds of her characters, and all the secrets and sorrows that create the universal messiness of major family events."Publishers Weekly
"When it comes to summer reading, few things are as enjoyable as a beach book by Elin Hilderbrand. You'll practically smell the salt air."Detroit Free Press
"A page-turner....She's the queen of the beach read."Coastal Living
PRAISE FOR SUMMERLAND:"
Summerland is as readable as any beach book, but with a much bigger heart."Boston Globe
"Hilderbrand has once again written an engaging story wonderfully illustrating the often complex lives of young people struggling toward adulthood."Booklist
"Hilderbrand has once again written an engaging story wonderfully illustrating the often complex lives of young people struggling toward adulthood."
PRAISE FOR SUMMERLAND:
"Summerland is as readable as any beach book, but with a much bigger heart."
"The Queen of the Summer Novel...Hilderbrand blends real-life issues - depression, teen alcoholism, bullying - with her signature soapy twists and illicit romances."