GOLDEN GIRL by Elin Hilderbrand

From the publisher:

In this satisfying page-turner from “the queen of beach reads” (New York Magazine), a Nantucket novelist has one final summer to protect her secrets while her loved ones on earth learn to live without their golden girl.

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she’s assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

With all of Elin’s trademark beach scenes, mouth-watering meals, and picture-perfect homes, plus a heartfelt message—the people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.

Hilderbrand continues to stretch her literary chops with her latest summer read, and it’s a good one. The kind of book you can’t put down. There is a bit of suspense – the hit-and-run at the center of the story is a mystery to be solved, but even I figured that out without really trying. Doesn’t matter though, it’s a good story with a beautiful Nantucket setting, characters who come to life on the page, and a bit of magical realism. Or a touch of fantasy/paranormal, whatever floats your boat, in that our main character, the golden girl herself, Vivian Howe, is the victim of the hit-and-run and is watching from heaven’s waiting room. A nice touch, especially for a mother who worries about her kids. And it feels a bit autobiographical, too – the main character is a novelist who sets all her books on Nantucket. Makes it feel more personal.

From heaven’s waiting room, Vivi meets her “person”, Martha, a Hermes scarf always around her neck and she helps Vivi navigate her afterlife. There Vivi can watch over her kids for the summer, and she is gifted with three “nudges” that she can use to help point her kids in the right direction. It makes for an interesting subplot.

There is a lot of family drama and laughs, and the story really moves quickly making it impossible to put down. If you like family drama with a touch of romance and an edge, this ticks off all those boxes. Another excellent read from the Nantucket Queen of beach reads, and this may be her best book yet, and that is really saying something. Don’t miss it!

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GOLDEN GIRL by Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown and Company (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-0316420082. 384 pages.







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