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ENDLESS SUMMER

A generous gift to the fans.

Prequels, sequels, and bonus tracks for favorite Hilderbrand novels.

One wonders what the author of 28 novels, sometimes appearing at the rate of two per year, does in her spare time. It turns out she writes what might almost be called Elin Hilderbrand fan fiction, creating short stories piggybacking off already-developed characters and plots. Brief introductions to each of the nine stories presented in this collection explain which book it goes with and the circumstances of its creation (most were digital or limited-edition publications; three were unpublished until now). Though it certainly would be best to read each story with its progenitor, as suggested, some can also work on their own. Both "The Surfing Lesson" (which goes with Beautiful Day) and "The Tailgate" (The Matchmaker) have the tight narrative focus and limited character set that make the short form shine. Less successful are the add-on stories "Summer of '79" and "Summer of '89," because if you haven't come fresh from Summer of '69, the large, multigenerational cast and intricate tapestry of the backstories are a little challenging. Fans of Golden Girl, in which Nantucket novelist Vivi Howe dies in the first chapter, will be pleased to see her resurrected here in "The Workshop." Vivi's experiences at the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference in Vermont are based on Hilderbrand's famously terrible time at the University of Iowa graduate writing program. Also fun is "Barbie's Wedding," in which realtor Fast Eddie Pancik's little sister, a bit player from The Rumor, marries the competition, shaking off any latent bad juju from the prostitution ring she helped run.

A generous gift to the fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-46091-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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