BEAUTIFUL DAY by Elin Hilderbrand takes place on the Island of Nantucket, just off the coast of New England, like all of Hilderbrand’s former novels. I always say that if it is summertime, then it’s time for a new novel by Hilderbrand.
I have read every single novel Elin Hilderbrand has written. I read her long before readers knew about her. And I fell in love with her writing and her Nantucket. She has yet to disappoint me. BEAUTIFUL DAY is one of my favorites.
Everyone loves a wedding. But there is something about a wedding that can bring out both the best and the worst in people. Families get together and try to be civil even to members they’ve hated for years. People get on each others last nerve. And then some. For some reason strangers tend to hop into bed together at a drop of a hat. There is usually much ado about everything. Feelings are on the end of noses. And relationships that are already stretched thin, can and most likely, will split wide open.
The Carmichael family in BEAUTIFUL DAY is dealing with a somewhat unique situation. These four adult children lost their mother to cancer seven years earlier. Now that Jenna is tying the knot with the love of her life, they are planning her wedding with the aid of “The Notebook,” a book handwritten in their deceased mom’s writing. It is her wishes for her youngest daughter’s big day. And they are planning on following it to the T.
Doug Carmichael is a very successful divorce lawyer who was devastated at the loss of the love of his life, Beth, after 35 years of marriage and four children. But after a couple years living alone, he succumbed to the loneliness and married again. Pauline is not the woman he loves. He is still very much in love with Beth.
Margot is the bride’s older, divorced sister. She’s the matron of honor; the one who is responsible for making sure everything is perfect for Jenn’s perfectly beautiful day. But Margot doesn’t really believe in love anymore, let alone forever after. And she’s dealing with a secret relationship that could blow apart right in the middle of the big weekend.
The bridegroom-to-be has parents with a dark history that will threaten the beautiful day. A gay brother adds plenty of color to an already colorful palette. And just wait until you hear about “she who shall not be named.”
The island of Nantucket is brought vividly to life once again by Elin Hilderbrand. She has the knack of showing rather than telling us all about her home. Nantucket is the summer home of hordes of people who come from all over the world to enjoy its pleasures. But BEAUTIFUL DAY is about a family who has summered here through generations. It’s about the surety of sameness, the sanctity of having a home that is an intrinsic part of the family, and about what is the most important part of our lives.
The subject of weddings brings out different emotions in different people. While reading this novel I found myself asking people their thoughts on marriage and relationships; on love itself. And I thought hard about couples I know who’ve been married for a long time to the same partner. I could only really come up with two: my friend Sue who has just celebrated fifty years with her husband; and my daughter who is celebrating twenty years of marriage to her husband this year. Only two. I have other friends who have been remarried, but that doesn’t count in my book.
BEAUTIFUL DAY will have you thinking deep thoughts about relationships and love. And why we choose to marry or not marry. Just this morning on the Today Show there was a segment on high profile couples who have chosen to have children without the sanctity of marriage.
At the end of BEAUTIFUL DAY there is a sentence that I just have to add here. “Love is scary! Taking a vow to love someone through sickness and health, for richer for poorer, forsaking all others, until death do us part, is the most terrifying experience a person can have. “
I hope you will pick up this novel of love and Nantucket. Whether it is your first Hilderbrand or not, I think you’ll be hooked. After all, for me, if it’s summertime, it’s time for Hilderbrand.
Thanks to Reagan Arthur Books, a division of Little Brown publishing for my gorgeous galley!