Follow-up to Hilderbrand’s debut, The Beach Club (2000), that summons up stronger plotting but is still sheer as a see-through bikini.
Hilderbrand’s steady flow of island detail impresses as a kind of consumer’s guide to Nantucket even as one’s hunger deepens for a Bret Eaton Ellis psycho amid the glitter or even an ax-wielding Russian student of Nietzsche out to murder a Monomoy millionaire. Can one really read 200-plus pages of this chicken salad? Three women in their 40s have met for 19 years on the Friday of Labor Day weekend for moonlit Champagne-and-lobster-tails, all-night nude swim, and heartfest. Kayla Montero, with four kids, fights her weight while married to her gorgeously handsome Brazilian husband, Raoul, a contractor with a ten-million-dollar house to build—and quite possibly mistresses to service. Antoinette Riley, who has been “having crazy sex,” is “dark-skinned like an Egyptian priestess” and has “the sexiest voice on the planet. . . dark and exotic, like sandalwood, like expensive chocolate.” A daughter, Lindsey, “the color of a wine cork” and given up for adoption as a baby, has tracked Antoinette (who has $30 million from Microsoft investments) down and wants to meet her the day after the swim party. Married Valerie Gluckstern, Nantucket’s top lawyer, has been having an affair “with someone they all know” and will tell all at the swim. Valerie brings a Methuselah of Laurent-Perrier Champagne to the swim, Antoinette a tub of lobster tails, Kayla a quart of raspberries and pale creamy Saint André cheese. Then Antoinette swims out, never returning. Police, coast guard, no Antoinette. Next day Kayla meets Lindsey, gives her the bad news, escorts her about. As it happens, Antoinette was pregnant by Kayla’s 18-year-old son, Theo! From there, everything dips deep into Peyton Place country, with Kayla turning adulteress as the muck rises.
One hates to see Kayla, a good Nantucketer, take it on the chin like this. But, well, for a good story? Hey.