THE LILAC HOUSE by Barbara Josselsohn

October 18, 2021

From the publisher:

Can one summer house bring two broken hearts together?

Summer escapes to Lilac House have always been a source of comfort for Anna Harris. Though things will never be the same since her husband’s death, she knows that it is there, nestled in Lake Summers in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, that she and her children Zac and Evie can begin to build a new life.

The house is just as beautiful as Anna remembers, and caught up in the rhythm of small town life, helping her Aunt Hope run the little shop on Main Street, Anna begins to feel a sense of herself she hasn’t felt in years. Then she meets Aidan. Handsome, strong and quiet, he also knows what it’s like to lose someone. In each other they recognise something they’ve both been missing and they feel a spark.

But Aidan’s past holds a different set of complications. He’s hiding a secret about why he came to Lake Summers. And just as the Lilac House finally starts to feel like home, Anna learns something devastating about Greg’s death that makes her question everything…

The summer might have brought Anna and Aidan together, but can Anna finally let go of the past now she really has the chance for a new beginning?

A beautiful story about moving on and finding yourself, The Lilac House will restore your faith in love and teach you that it’s never too late the find the person who will change your life. For fans of Carolyn Brown, Jenny Hale and Mary Alice Monroe.

Josselsohn (The Lily Garden) starts the Lake Summers series in a small summer resort town in New York’s Adirondack Mountains that holds special memories for recently widowed Anna Harris and her family. The whole family is grieving, but there are so many special memories in the Lilac House, where they summered every year of their marriage.

Anna’s Aunt Hope has opened a ballet school and store in town, so Anna gets to spend some time with her only relative. Her kids start camp, and she starts helping out in the store, which doesn’t seem to be doing all that well. The town has hired a business consultant, Aidan, and he is happy to help; Aidan is a widower, so he also knows grief, but there is more to his story. Aidan and Anna enjoy spending time together, but they are both apprehensive about getting too involved because of their situations; Anna isn’t sure she’s staying, and Aidan has a mysterious, troubling past.

More women’s fiction than romance; this is a sweet, small-town story that deals with some serious issues but is ultimately uplifting. Sure to please fans of Jodi Picoult or Carolyn Brown, and anyone who once enjoyed ballet lessons.

NOTE: This book is being reissued by Grand Central Publishing on Dec. 14, 2021.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LILAC HOUSE by Barbara Josselsohn. Bookouture (March 10, 2020). ISBN: 978-1838881580. 280 pages.




September 18, 2021

Welcome to Thorndale, Book 4

From the publisher:

Can the magic of Christmas and the

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

Good Morning America Buzz Pick
A Library Reads Pick

This book is a love letter to libraries and librarians; no wonder it made the Library Reads top picks! Let me add my voice to the chorus.

If you like charming English villages with quirky characters, then this is your book. If you love libraries, then this is your book. If you like a fairy tale, then this is your book. It certainly was mine.

June’s mom was the head librarian at their little village library for most of June’s life. June started working there right out of school when her mother became ill. June’s father has never been in the picture, and she is extremely close to her mother and nursed her through cancer until she lost her. June has been dealing with her grief by staying in the same house, not changing a thing, and only leaving for work or if she’s absolutely forced to. When the town council announces that they have had budget cuts and are looking at possibly closing six area libraries, including June’s, the town goes into revolt. The politics aren’t good -June’s job is threatened if she conspires with the town folk who are trying to save the library, so she goes undercover. But then she outs herself and decides it is too important to hide.

There is a lot of humor here, along a touch of romance. I loved that this is a look at the importance of libraries in a community, beyond the bookshelves. I loved this book and wish everyone would read it!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY by Freya Sampson. Berkley (August 31, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593201381. 336 pages.








September 16, 2021

From the publisher:

In this rich and compassionate novel, An Observant Wife, Naomi Ragen continues the love story between newly observant California-girl Leah and ultra-Orthodox widower Yaakov from An Unorthodox Match.

From the joy of their wedding day surrounded by supportive friends and family, Yaakov and Leah are soon plunged into the complex reality of their new lives together as Yaakov leaves his beloved yeshiva to work in the city, and Leah confronts the often agonizing restrictions imposed by religious laws governing even the most intimate moments of their married lives. Adding to their difficulties is the hostility of some in the community who continue to view Leah as a dangerous interloper, questioning her sincerity and adherence to religious laws and spreading outrageous rumors.

In the midst of their heartfelt attempts to reach a balance between their human needs and their spiritual obligations, the discovery of a secret, forbidden relationship between troubled teenage daughter Shaindele and a local boy precipitates a maelstrom of life-changing consequences for all.

I didn’t realize that this was the sequel to An Unorthodox Match until I started reading it and the characters seemed familiar. I loved that book and I was happy to revisit Boro Park and see how Leah and Yaakov were doing. It is unnecessary to read An Unorthodox Match to enjoy this book, but it does give a better perspective of their lives leading up to their marriage.

Leah and Yaakov are Orthodox Jews living in a part of Brooklyn that is a community of people just like them. Except that Leah wasn’t brought up Orthodox; her mother shed the rigors of that life and Leah grew up in California. But when everything in her life goes bad, she seeks refuge in this strict community where they are supposed to welcome those who have “returned” to orthodoxy. The reality is that maybe the rabbis treat her that way, but her neighbors do not. They are suspicious of her different upbringing, and rumors abound.

But Leah loves Yaakov and his children. She loves her Orthodox life, for the most part. She isn’t thrilled about not having sex for half the month, though. This is actually the first time I’ve seen Orthodox sex discussed. I found the “rules” and explanations fascinating. That said, there are no sex scenes in this book. The closest it gets is when they push the twin beds together.

The oldest boys have been sent to study at a Yeshiva and live with their uncle in Philadelphia. The eldest at home is Shaindel, a fifteen year old who is not thrilled with her new stepmother. The first wife suffered from debilitating post partum depression, and the way this Jewish community handled it contributed to her death. This has greatly affected Shaindel, while the younger children are babies and not really aware. They love Leah, and Leah tries hard with Shaindel, and they form a fairly good relationship.

But Shaindel has a rebellious streak, and when she sees the principal’s son working at a kosher pizza place, she starts hanging out there everyday after school. The boy is good looking, and he notices her. He convinces her to meet him after dark in local parks, and they do some kissing and more, which is completely unacceptable in this community. The boy has been thrown out of his father’s school, he is not a good kid. In this society, boys and girls do not talk, touch, and are never left alone. Matches are arranged for them, usually when a girl is 18 or so. They meet, they marry – more or less. 

When the school finds out, they threaten expulsion. Shaindel wants to be a teacher like her mother was, and is devastated that a stupid mistake could bring such shame. But Leah defends her and convinces the principal to let her remain. He agrees but only if she will go see a counselor of his choosing. The man he sends her to is Hassidic and very well respected. But when Shaindel goes, he makes her very uncomfortable, to say the least. He is a sexual predator, and how the family and the community deal with that is at the heart of this story.

I really like Naomi Ragen’s books, I like learning about the different culture she writes about. Even though I’m Jewish, I am not Orthodox, so it is a lifestyle much different from my own. Ragen is a terrific storyteller, and the story and these characters really drew me in. If you haven’t read her, this is as good a place to start as any. That said, I think her best books are her older ones, particularly The Sacrifice of Tamar and Jephte’s Daughter. They should be available at your local library.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

AN OBSERVANT WIFE by Naomi Ragen. St. Martin’s Press (September 14, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250260079. 352 pages.




PAPER DOLL LINA by Robyn Lucas

September 2, 2021

From the publisher:

One rip is all it takes to expose the devastating truth behind a seemingly perfect life.

Lina Henry is a wife and mother who likens herself to a pretty paper doll. She lives in a beautiful home in the Atlanta suburbs. Her husband, David, is a well-to-do investment banker. She’s raised two wonderful teenagers. To the outside world, the Henry family is perfect. What no one knows is that Lina’s paper doll life is being torn apart in a controlling and abusive marriage. When Lina develops an unexpected friendship with another man, and reconnects with her former best friend, she begins navigating a way out of the emotional minefield that is her home.

But as David senses his loss of control, he becomes more dangerous, and Lina must do everything in her power to protect herself and her children. In order to take back the happiness she deserves, Lina must first rediscover the strength and the fearlessness of her three-dimensional self.

Lina seems to have it all; a lovely home, a successful husband, two well behaved teenagers. But things aren’t always as they seem and, in this case, Lina’s husband David has been emotionally abusive for most of their marriage. The kids have created an exercise app that is taking off and loving the publicity they are getting, but David wants them to shut it down. While her kids are being interviewed on TV, Lina meets Noah, a renowned action movie star, and they become friends. Lina realizes that the emotional abuse is now affecting her kids, and she decides to confront David and ask for a divorce which escalates the abuse. Lina tries to convince herself to hang on for a few more years until the kids are out of school, but her friends give her the courage to move forward in her quest for freedom and Lina finds love. This is a gripping story with characters that come to life on the page, but it is a difficult, possibly triggering, read.  

Verdict: The heartbreak of an abusive marriage should be fertile ground for book groups. There are similar storylines in Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and The Journey by Danielle Steel.

©Library Journal, 2021

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PAPER DOLL LINA by Robyn Lucas. Lake Union Publishing (September 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542030151. 365 pages.




PALM BEACH by Mary Adkins

August 4, 2021

From the publisher:

A thought-provoking page-turner from the author of When You Read This and Privilege that captures the painful divide between the haves and have-nots and the seductive lure of the American dream. 

Living in a tiny Queens apartment, Rebecca and her husband Mickey typify struggling, 30-something New Yorkers—he’s an actor, and she’s a freelance journalist. But after the arrival of their baby son, the couple decides to pack up and head for sunny, comfortable Palm Beach, where Mickey’s been offered a sweet deal managing the household of a multimillionaire Democratic donor. 

Once there, he quickly doubles his salary by going to work for a billionaire: venture capitalist Cecil Stone. Rebecca, a writer whose beat is economic inequality, is initially horrified: she pillories men like Stone, a ruthless businessman famous for crushing local newspapers. So no one is more surprised than her when she accepts a job working for Cecil’s wife as a ghostwriter, thinking of the excellent pay and the rare, inside look at this famous Forbes-list family. What she doesn’t expect is that she’ll grow close to the Stones, or become a regular at their high-powered dinners. And when a medical crisis hits, it’s the Stones who come to their rescue, using their power, influence, and wealth to avert catastrophe. 

As she and Mickey are both pulled deeper into this topsy-turvy household, they become increasingly dependent on their problematic benefactors. Then when she discovers a shocking secret about the Stones, Rebecca will have to decide: how many compromises can one couple make?




Are the rich different? Mary Adkins (Privilege) attempts to answer that in this entertaining read. Mickey, a Broadway actor, loses his voice and his career. He’s always hustled side jobs, and lucks into a full time job in Palm Beach for one of his clients and moves his wife and 8-month-old baby to Florida.

Mickey quickly finds an even better job as butler to a billionaire couple, the Stones, for twice the money, but his journalist wife, Rebecca, is horrified that he is considering working for the “vulture capitalist” who destroys every company he buys, but the money is too good to pass up, plus it leads to an opportunity for Rebecca to ghostwrite Mrs. Stone’s memoirs.

When the baby is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, the Stones come to the rescue, causing the young couple to reexamine their feelings about the Stones and the power of money.  

Verdict: Adkins offers great fodder for book discussions, and should appeal to readers who enjoyed The Darlings by Cristina Alger, Snobs by Julian Fellowes, or The Unfortunates by
Sophie McManus.

©Library Journal, 2021

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PALM BEACH by Mary Adkins. Harper (August 3, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063011373. 304 pages.





August 3, 2021

From the publisher:

A young artist forges a path of self-discovery in an enriching novel about forgiving the past and embracing second chances, from the bestselling author of An Unfinished Story.

Maine, 1969. After losing her parents in a car accident, aspiring artist Annalisa Mancuso lives with her grandmother and their large Italian family in the stifling factory town of Payton Mills. Inspired by her mother, whose own artistic dreams disappeared in a damaged marriage, Annalisa is dedicated only to painting. Closed off to love, and driven as much by her innate talent as she is the disillusionment of her past, Annalisa just wants to come into her own.

The first step is leaving Payton Mills and everything it represents. The next, the inspiring opportunities in the city of Portland and a thriving New England art scene where Annalisa hopes to find her voice. But she meets Thomas, an Ivy League student whose attentions―and troubled family―upend her pursuits in ways she never imagined possible. As their relationship deepens, Annalisa must balance her dreams against an unexpected love. Until the unraveling of an unforgivable lie.

For Annalisa, opening herself up to life and to love is a risk. It might also be the chance she needs to finally become the person and the artist she’s meant to be.

Boo Walker’s beautifully written coming of age story (after An Unfinished Story) is set against the backdrop of the unpopular Vietnam War. We get to view life in those turbulent times through the eyes of a young artist, Annalisa Mancuso. Annalisa tragically lost her parents when she was young, and her Nonna stepped in and took care of her. Annalisa remembered her mother’s creativity being stifled in her marriage, and as an artist herself, is determined to never let that happen. The only path she sees forward is to live in solitude, but when she meets Thomas, he changes the trajectory of her life in more ways than she could ever imagine.

Annalisa’s goal to escape the small town in Maine where she grew up and move to Portland is realized. There she finds a thriving art community, a teacher, and a gallery owner who recognize and encourage her talent. Meanwhile, Thomas’s wealthy family threatens to cut him off unless he ends things with Annalisa.

Annalisa grows up the hard way when Thomas loses his deferment and is sent to Vietnam. She breaks up with him so she can concentrate on her art, but she still feels their connection. They correspond during the war, and she spends a week with him in Hawaii when he gets some leave. Annalisa is torn between following her dream or her heart and has many difficult decisions to make.

Verdict: Walker’s latest is ideal for book discussion groups and should appeal to readers who enjoyed Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Dance Away with Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or the emotional resonance of Nicholas Sparks’ books.

©Library Journal, 2021

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SINGING TREES by Boo Walker. Lake Union Publishing (August 3, 2021). ISBN: 978-1542019125. 429 pages.




THAT SUMMER by Jennifer Weiner

June 26, 2021

From the publisher:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Summer comes another deliciously twisty novel of intrigue, secrets, and the transformative power of female friendship.

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, That Summer is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.


“Weiner, the undisputed boss of the beach read, is back with another stunner.” —The New York Times

That Summer Is Your *IDEAL* Beach Read.” —Cosmopolitan

Named a Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2021 by Marie ClaireBustleGood Morning America, CNN, PopSugarGood HousekeepingFrolicCountry Living, and Working Mother

“Legions of fans will applaud this emotionally affecting and often surprising story.” — Publishers Weekly

“An uncompromising, complicated portrait of the insidious dangers of the patriarchy that is also a lot of fun to read.” — Booklist

I have been reading Weiner since her first novel, Good in Bed, which I loved. She is just a great story teller, and her latest is no exception. It is a terrific read and I couldn’t put it down. I just escaped to Cape Cod and enjoyed every page.

Daisy, real name Diana, is married but her marriage seems to have settled into the doldrums. Her teenage daughter has an Etsy store and is more interested in her crafting and budding taxidermy skills than her mother, or school for that matter. Then Daisy starts getting these surprising emails, mostly invitations to glamorous events from people she’s never heard of. She quickly realizes that the emails shouldn’t really be going to her, there is another Diana with a similar email. She contacts the other Diana who is everything Daisy is not – single and sophisticated with a job that has her jetting around the country.

They meet up and become friends, the first friend Daisy has made since her best friend passed away. But there is more going on with her new friend than Daisy knows, and when she finds out the truth, it shatters everything she thought about her life and her family.

I have to say while I liked the cover of this book, it didn’t really fit the book, if that makes sense. It is not the light, fluffy book that the cover reflects, but it is a really interesting, heartwarming one that deals with a difficult subject, rape and its aftermath. If you haven’t read Weiner (why not?), it’s a terrific place to start.

Note to audio book readers: Sutton Foster reads this audio book. If you are not familiar with her, she was in the Gilmore Girls reboot, starred in Bunheads (a series that was cancelled too soon!) and Younger (which has pretty much jumped the shark now but the first several seasons were great).

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THAT SUMMER by Jennifer Weiner. Atria Books (May 11, 2021). ISBN: 978-1501133541. 432 pages.







THE STEPSISTERS by Susan Mallery

June 17, 2021

From the publisher:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery pens a love story of a different sort…a heartfelt tale of friendship between two women who used to be sisters.

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.

I love Susan Mallery books, and this is a really good one. I feel like she usually writes romances, and while this does have a bit of romance, it is really more about a family and women and friendship. It is the kind of story that sucks you in and I couldn’t put it down.

Daisy is the main character and like all these characters, they really come to life on the page. A little background – when her widowed father remarries, she gets a stepsister, Sage. Daisy is thrilled to have a new sister but quickly learns that Sage isn’t. But Sage is beautiful and quickly becomes popular, helping to ostracize Daisy and making her high school years miserable. Her father and stepmother have a baby, Cassidy. Again Daisy wants to be a big sister to the new baby, but her stepmother is not having it. Cassidy and Sage team up against Daisy, and make her life difficult. Eventually, Daisy’s father divorces her stepmother and the girls are permanently estranged.

They are all adults in this story, and Daisy has been married for a dozen years to Sage’s ex-high school boyfriend, and they have two kids. Daisy thinks everything is fine so she is shocked when her husband suddenly moves out with no explanation. Then she gets a phone call from her father; Cassidy has been in a mountain climbing accident, and needs a place to recover. Since Daisy inherited the big mansion from her parents, she definitely has the room and can’t say no to her father.

With Cassidy firmly ensconced in the family home, Sage becomes a regular visitor and the girls start talking. There is still a lot of resentment but with time, they form new bonds. But then just when you think the happy ending is coming, there’s a twist. Actually, a few twists, making this book completely unputdownable. It’s a heartwarming read sure to appeal to fans of Elin Hilderbrand or Jennifer Weiner.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE STEPSISTERS by Susan Mallery. MIRA; Original edition (May 25, 2021). ISBN: 978-0778331803. 416 pages.







ANNE OF MANHATTAN by Brina Starler

June 13, 2021

From the publisher:

L. M. Montgomery’s classic tale, Anne of Green Gables, gets a romantic, charming, and hilarious modern adaptation, set in New York City.

After an idyllic girlhood in Avonlea, Long Island, Anne has packed up her trunk, said goodbye to her foster parents, Marilla and Matthew, and moved to the isle of Manhattan for grad school. Together with her best friend, Diana Barry, she’s ready to take on the world and find her voice as a writer.

When her long-time archrival Gilbert Blythe shows up at Redmond College for their final year, Anne gets the shock of her life. Gil has been in California for the last five years—since he kissed her during a beach bonfire, and she ghosted him. Now the handsome brunette is flashing his dimples at her like he hasn’t a care in the world and she isn’t buying it.

Paired with the same professor for their thesis, the two former competitors come to a grudging peace that turns into something so much deeper…and sexier than either intended. But when Gil seemingly betrays her to get ahead, Anne realizes she was right all along—she should never have trusted Gilbert Blythe.

While Gil must prove to Anne that they’re meant to be together, she must come to terms with her old fears if she wants a happily-ever-after with the boy she’s always (secretly) loved.

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books, so I tend to like stories based on those characters. This was a pretty good update to the story.

Avonlea has been moved to the Hamptons from its rightful place on Prince Edward Island, Canada, which I was fine with. The thing I was most concerned with was the integrity of these characters, and Starler did them justice. I haven’t read the sequels to Anne of Green Gables since I was a child, so I don’t really remember them which probably stood me well now; the fewer details I remember means a better book for me. So I was happy. I liked seeing this 21st century Anne!

Anne and Gilbert are still at odds, but they are old enough now to realize their attraction to one another. But all that baggage has left Anne leery, no matter what her heart wants. They have obstacles to overcome to reach their happily every after, and there are many of them. The story is fast paced and for me, emotional, as I love these characters so much. I may have a few quibbles with minor details, but all in all, I really liked this book. If you haven’t read the Montgomery books, it won’t matter, this book certainly stands alone. But do yourself a favor and at least read the original.

6/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ANNE OF MANHATTAN by Brina Starler. William Morrow Paperbacks (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063020740. 336 pages.







GOLDEN GIRL by Elin Hilderbrand

June 4, 2021

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.