A moody, atmospheric domestic drama with a mystery novel somewhere in its family tree.

THE END OF THE DAY

A web of characters are connected by long-kept secrets, a boxy briefcase, and a once-fabulous mansion in the Connecticut woods.

Dana, Jackie, Lupita, Alice, Hap. How do they all fit together? In rotating vignettes from past and present, Clegg parcels out the clues at a leisurely pace. First we meet Dana Goss, a slim, imperious aging heiress. Suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s, she keeps forgetting why she’s had herself driven to Connecticut with a monogrammed briefcase full of papers and photos, planning to break the 50-year silence between herself and her childhood best friend. Unfortunately, Jackie, a bitter woman whose fondness for Dana has long since been replaced by fury, won’t even open the door. Next up: Lupita. Daughter of the maid at Dana’s family’s mansion, same age as Dana and Jackie, now living in Hawaii and running a taxi company. Then Alice, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, age 73: Dana Goss’ aunt was her benefactor and lifelong friend. Alice is holding a baby for the first time in a while—her son and daughter-in-law have dumped their newborn and disappeared. Finally, Hap, the son in question. He was planning to bring his elderly father to meet the new baby, but the man fell down the stairs at his hotel just as Hap was arriving and died a few days later. Hap is about to find out that almost everything he knows about who he is is a lie. Subsequent sections rotate through the characters, uncovering the secret history that binds them together. On the way Clegg dives deep into the inner life of each, exploring the ways our traumas shape our lives. His unhurried, lyrical sentences often make connections between the characters' states of mind and the natural world: “The late day light breaks through and moves in beams and panels across the sky. It dazzles and vanishes, then reappears, flares bright, goes dark again—on and on, like code, as if the sun itself is speaking to her.” This book is sad, but compared to Clegg’s highly acclaimed first novel, Did You Ever Have a Family, it's a Fourth of July picnic, albeit one that ruins a few characters' lives.

A moody, atmospheric domestic drama with a mystery novel somewhere in its family tree.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-9820-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scout Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

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GOLDEN GIRL

From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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