Oh for the days when life was a picnic on the beach: Hilderbrand sets the gold standard in escapist fiction.

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28 SUMMERS

A Nantucket-ization of the world’s most romantic adultery story.

Inspired by the 1978 movie Same Time, Next Year, Hilderbrand creates her own pair of annual secret lovers—Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud. Mallory is a Baltimore girl, born and raised in Anne Tyler territory, who inherits a Nantucket beach cottage from her gay aunt. Jake is her brother Cooper’s best friend from his college days at Johns Hopkins. They first cross paths in 1993, when Mallory hosts Cooper’s bachelor party over Labor Day weekend…and the book’s title gives you a pretty good idea of the rest. When they meet, Jake is already the property of a glamorous but coldhearted powerhouse named Ursula DeGournsey—the two grew up together in South Bend, Indiana—who by the end of the book is a U.S. senator running for president. To get to 2020, Hilderbrand paves a lush path of nostalgia, introducing each year with a rundown of headlines, song lyrics, and pop-culture memories, and also slips in an astute commentary on marriage, showcasing various good ones and bad ones along the way. Come for the sailing, the sunsets, and the sweet romance, stay for the cold gin and tonics, the lobster dinners, and truly unparalleled picnics: “rare roast beef, Boursin, and arugula pinwheel sandwiches, chicken and potato sandwiches with celery and chives; a marinated cucumber salad from the Baltimore Junior League cookbook, and lemon bars with a coconut shortbread crust.” In her 25th novel, Hilderbrand gets everything right and leaves her ardent fans hungry for No. 26.

Oh for the days when life was a picnic on the beach: Hilderbrand sets the gold standard in escapist fiction.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42004-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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