Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand

Released: June 2002

I first fell in love with Elin Hilderbrand after reading The Matchmaker, which was just released last summer. Since reading that novel, I've been frantically purchasing everything on Hilderbrand's backlist. I dove into Nantucket Nights last week after deciding I needed a break from sci-fi and horror.

The Night Swimmers

Kayla, Val, and Antoinette have upheld the tradition of swimming naked at midnight on a secluded Nantucket beach on a special night every year for the last 20 years. Referring to themselves as the "Night Swimmers," each woman shares one of her most darkest secrets with the other women in a ritual most would find less than ladylike. When drunken Kayla brazenly accuses Antoinette of sleeping with Kayla's husband, Antoinette dances into the water and never returns to shore. The entire island of Nantucket goes into an uproar, and blames Kayla for Antoinette's disappearance.

Nothing but secrets

I love how Nantucket Nights kept me guessing until the very end. The first chapter told from Kayla's point of view was engaging, but seemed to last FOREVER (112 pages. Longest chapter EVER!). But my entire opinion about this story changed after I read the title of the chapter that followed Kayla's never-ending chapter.

There's no way I'm going to reveal which characters get to share their points of view, but the book is fucking amazing, and it'll keep you guessing until the very end (total cliché, I know, but true).

Hilderbrand is excellent at getting into the heads of her characters. Antoinette is the epitome of depression. I'm so impressed. And the character who loves her really knows how to love, with their entire being. It's all so beautiful.

Nantucket sounds like a beautiful place to visit, but I'd never want to live there. The small-town mentality would be too much for me to bear. It angered me how people who had known Kayla for years treated her with disdain after Antoinette's disappearance, even though Antoinette was the odd duck on the island for 20 years before her disappearance. Go figure.

Hilderbrand's titles and covers

One gripe I have about Hilderbrand's novels are the book titles and cover art. I know the choice isn't entirely up to her, so I don't blame her. But the titles and cover artwork are so misleading it hurts me to look at them. One would glance at these novels and assume they're beach reads for the average wistful middle-aged housewife those books seem to cater to, but they're SO MUCH MORE than that! Her novels are complex and beautifully written, and it's a shame that people say "Huh-uh, I don't know her," when I sing praises about Elin Hilderbrand's work. She's underrated, and doesn't deserve to be.

I guess I'll just have to keep writing book reviews about her many amazing novels!

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