Reading these books is like taking a vacation
Summer can be all year long
Every year I look for the great summer book. The book that I can take to the beach or out floating in the lake. A few years ago, I discovered "Barefoot" by Elin Hilderbrand. I purchased this book while on vacation and before I was even able to read a page, my daughter came down with a horrible case of cocksackie virus. She was miserable and since it so contagious, it spread like wildfire throughout the family, finally setting its sights on me. I was terribly sick. However, while laying in bed not wanting to do anything but keep my head on a pillow, I remembered this new book I bought. I was immediately immersed in the story. I felt as though I was not in my bed, miserable, but laying on the beautiful sandy beaches of Nantucket Island soaking up the sun. I became entranced with the characters and wanted to know their every move. It was a great way to take away my discomfort.
I find Elin Hilderbrand's writing so engaging. I actually feel as though I know her characters when I am finished with one of her books. In "Barefoot" there is a scene where a couple is standing at Sankaty Light House in Nantucket in the middle of the night. It was such an emotional scene, my heart raced with excitement as I felt the female's sorrow and angst as she spoke to her husband. My mind pictured the moon shining down upon them as they looked into each others faces. That is the type of writing I so enjoy in the summer when I can actually savor a book. During the school year, I am so wiped out, I fall asleep after the first page.
This was a new author to me, I had no idea she even had other novels published. So, of course when I was finished with this book, I wanted another. I did what most people do these days, I went to the internet. Was I in luck! She had written several other novels which I promptly ordered on Amazon. I did not think I would get as hooked as I did with "Barefoot" as I started "Summer People", but hooked I got, getting know yet another family that came to vacation on that island, as well as the locals who stayed there and endured the harsh winters. I read and lived through another familys struggle to overcome sorrow and find happiness again, all while hearing the surf in my head and visualizing the beautiful blue sky over the white sand.
In the winter, I somehow lost my beach addiction and moved on the historical fiction. I am a Tudor History buff, so I spent the winter fllipping through stories of Henry and his wives while the snow piled up outside. However, one day I came across "Nantucket Nights". Once I opened it, I could not put it down. I could not wait to find out what was going to happen to the Montero family and their friends. I loved the fact that Elin Hilderbrand continued to mention stores, restaurants, hotels and dance clubs that are located on the island throughout her books. It gave me a sense of knowing the island well, although I had never been there.
This summer, I snatched up "Castaways" and spent the July 4th weekend reading it lakeside. Once again, well written, this had a large cast of characters and I made some new friends while reading this book because they felt so real to me. They were very much like friends that I know and love. They had been through tragedy and had to learn to live with it, and continue their lives without key figures. I needed another book right after I finished that one, so I went looking. I found "Summer Affair", "the Island" which was just released this July and "The Beach Club". I am about the finish "The Beach Club" tonight. I had begun reading this novel the year I read "Barefoot" and could not get into it. But this summer, I dove deep into it. Probaby what drew me to "the Beach club" was the novel I read just before it. "The Love Season".
"The Love Season" , like "The Beach Club" was a book I purchased after "Nantucket Nights" and could not get myself to dive into. However this summer, I did. I was quiet glad I opened the pages and took the time to read it. The main character is a unique woman whose life unfolds very slowly each chapter. The story moves between present day and the past, and through several cities and countries. This novel truly gave Elin Hilderbrand the opportunity to show off her novel of the world she obtained while traveling extensively. This was a story I thought I was not interested in, and it may very well be my favorite of Ms. Hilderbrand's books. "The Love Season" mentions the Nantucket Beach Club, so when I closed the book on the Love Season, my mind was programmed to want to know about the "Beach Club". Although the two novels do not tie in to one another, and the characters are completely different, I was able to sink my teeth into the story right away.
Another thing I enjoy about these stories is the way Elin Hilderbrand manages to teach her readers about her little island she lives on. She may set one novel in the Heart of Nantuckets busy beach community, mentioning the fancy restaurants or the gourmet markets one will go to. She will have characters drive out the farthest most remote parts of the island so one can get a "look" there as well. She mentions the rose covered cottages of Sconset and the lighthouse. She shares what the life is like for those who spend the entire year on Nantucket, living through tough winters, not having chain restaurants or movie theaters. She shows the joy of community that the people on the island share with one another, many times due to basic needs. One gets a glimpse of the sprawling beachfronts mansions of the very wealthy and the tiny little basement apartments of those who make enough to get by. We even get to learn about the wonderful farm where the deliciously fresh fruits and vegetables are grown and sold to those who want the best food from nature.
I have never been to Nantucket. I have researched and learned about it on the internet because of these books. I had read about Nantucket in one other novel before this, yet another summer read, "Summer Sisters" by Judy Blume, but the characters never actually go there, they stay on Martha's Vineyard which is also mentioned from time to time in Hilderbrand's stories. So I may not get to actually travel to Nantucket just yet, but I can in my mind and in my imagination as I spend the summer getting lost in the beach novels.