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Get Swan Song book club questions here. “Queen of the Beach Reads” Elin Hilderbrand’s last book offers so much glamour and drama to discuss while you party like the Richardsons. I’ve also included a character guide, “pink and white party” ideas from the story, and more!

You’ll be fully prepared to explore its plot and have fun at the same time. Print a PDF of the discussion questions to take with you below as well!

swan song by elin hilderbrand in front of a book cart with a nantucket magnet.

Swan Song Book Club Questions (Without Spoilers)

Discuss the multi-layered significance of the title Swan Song.

If you read them, discuss the storylines leading up to Swan Song in Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket novels.

Compare and contrast this novel to the best Elin Hilderbrand novels you’ve read.

Discuss the author’s choice to tie Chief of Police Ed Kapenash’s character arc into this story.

Why do you think the author chose a mysterious fire to be central to this story?

Why did Ed want to be involved in the investigation?

It’s mentioned that “The late great novelist John Gardner famously said that there are only two plots: One, a person goes on a journey, and two, a stranger comes to town.” Do you agree?

Technically, three strangers come to town. Whose story is it?

Name as many Easter eggs from other Elin Hilderbrand novels as you can.

What was your favorite Nantucket reference?

What was your favorite pop culture reference?

Why is this popular Mary Oliver quote from the poem “The Summer Day” repeated (including as the title of the final chapter): “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?”

What do you make of the novel’s many book and author references?

Why did Colleen (Coco) accept the job with the Richardsons?

What was your favorite Richardson party and why?

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Richardsons.

Why were the islanders so intrigued by the Richardsons?

Why did Leslee want to get into The Field and Oar Club so badly?

What is the significance of the names 888 and Hedonism?

How did the author incorporate diversity into this novel?

Did you like Coco’s screenplay ideas?

Who did you think started the fire?

What did you think happened to Coco?

Without giving anything away, what would you have done if you were Coco?

Are Bull and Leslee a good couple?

Did the ending surprise you?

Discuss the final sentence.

What do you think is next in the lives of these characters?

Did Elin Hilderbrand’s Swan Song live up to the hype (literary and figuratively)?

What is Elin Hilderbrand’s legacy?

Printable PDF Discussion Questions

book club questions for swan song.

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Book Club Ideas for a Pink and White Party

Move over, Jay Gatsby! The Richardsons’ pink and white party is the most wild and lavish literary party about which I’ve ever read. That’s why I recommend you use the many details from the book about it for your own book club gathering.

swang song pink and white party food collage.
swan song: pink and white party collage.

Drinks



Clothing and Decor

While you can wear any pink clothing and decorate with any pink party supplies, you may choose a pink and white striped tent awning like the one from the novel, pink orchids like those decorating 888 Pocomo, a pink bandage dress like Leslee’s, a pink seersucker suit like Eddie’s, and/or pink wigs like those handed out at the party.

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Swan Song Reading Guide

Read these books in The Literary Lifestyle’s Summer Reading Challenge For Adults.

Quick Plot Summary (Without Spoilers)

Swan Song
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hilderbrand, Elin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 06/11/2024 (Publication Date) – Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)
  • New Book Release Date: June 11, 2024
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction

In Swan Song, the beloved Nantucket Police Chief Ed Kapenash is set to retire at summer’s end when he decides to become involved in one last investigation: a catastrophic house fire that occurs at the same time the owners’ personal concierge goes missing off their boat.

Prior to the fire, the glamorous Australian couple Bull and Leslee Richardson were the new buyers of the famed $20 million “Triple Eight” home on Pocomo Road, Nantucket. They brought along with them to the island a personal concierge, Colleen Coyle (“Coco”), whom they met by chance.

Immediately, the Richardsons become the talk of the town. They host lavish parties at the property and befriend local residents as they seek to become members of The Field and Oar Club.

Tensions rise all summer among the large cast of characters until the Richardsons’ home goes up in flames and Coco mysteriously disappears while on board the Richardsons’ boat for their vow renewal.

Ed can’t help but become involved in an investigation one last time, especially since Coco had befriended their family.

Is Coco a victim or a suspect?


Characters

Swan Song has a pretty large cast of characters, especially since Elin Hilderbrand included so many characters readers know and love from her previous books in this, her last book.

Below are quick descriptions of the most major characters to keep track of:

  • Ed Kapenash: Nantucket’s retiring chief of police
    • Andrea: his wife (both are part of “The Castaways” friends group)
    • Kacy: his daughter
      • Dr. Isla Quintanilla: Kacy’s secret lover who is engaged to Dr. Rondo
    • Eric: his son
      • Avalon: Eric’s girlfriend
    • Chloe and Finn: his adopted children; the biological children of Greg and (Andrea’s cousin) Tess MacAvoy, who drowned in a sailing accident
  • Bull and Leslee Richardson: the rich Australian couple that comes to town
  • Colleen (Coco) Coyle: the Richardsons’ new personal concierge on the island
  • Lamont Oakley: captain of the Richardsons’ boat and Coco’s love interest
    • Glynnie: his ailing mother
    • Javier and Esteban Valladares: local teen brothers who help him on the boat
  • Addison and Phoebe Wheeler: Andrea’s best friends who are part of “The Castaways” friends group. Addison is the Richardsons’ real estate agent. Phoebe is on the membership committee at The Field and Oar Club.
  • Jeffrey and Delilah Drake: Andrea’s best friends who are part of “The Castaways” friends group. They own a farm. Delilah is on the board of Nantucket Food, Fuel, and Rental Assistance.
  • Blond Sharon: the local gossip, an aspiring writer
    • Walker: her ex-husband, who left her for his young physical therapist, Bailey
    • Romeo: her love interest, who works for the Steamship Authority
  • Eddie Pancik (“Fast Eddie”): “Nantucket real estate royalty and Sharon’s male counterpart in the gossip department.”
    • Grace: his wife
  • Dr. Andy McMann: local dentist
    • Rachel: his wife
  • Zara Washington: the incoming chief of police

Book Review of Elin Hilderbrand’s Last Book

4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars for a perfect final chapter (literally and figuratively).

Pros:

Elin Hilderbrand’s fans are in for a treat with her latest (and final) book release: the aptly titled, Swan Song. First, the title and book cover perfectly sum up her career as “Queen of the Beach Reads.”

Second, I always find stories that begin with a house burned to the ground immensely propulsive, and this one certainly did not disappoint.

Now, onto the details. Elin Hilderbrand blended everything her readers crave into one final narrative: characters we know and love, Nantucket references, pop culture references, summer scenes, drama, romance, mystery, and “rich people problems.”

In addition, she incorporated the most extravagant parties I’ve ever read about. The pink and white party’s food, drinks, decor, music, style, and antics absolutely blew me away as a reader. I couldn’t get enough of the details!

The final chapter was exquisite. I’m tearing up just thinking about the last few sentences!

Cons:

The loose ends of the mystery tied up a little too quickly and neatly for me.


Nantucket Novels: Books to Read Before Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand

Swan Song (2024) is the fourth book in Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket series, which also includes:

  1. A Summer Affair (2008)
  2. The Castaways (2009)
  3. The Perfect Couple (2018)

Read Swan Song as the fourth novel in this series or as a standalone novel (with some spoilers).

If you don’t have time to read all four novels in the Nantucket series but still want to familiarize yourself with the major characters before you read Swan Song, then I recommend reading The Castaways. That particular book follows the story of a group of Nantucket friends who are all very central to Swan Song as well.

Being Elin Hilderbrand’s final novel, she also refers to many more of her previous characters and plots from many more of her books in Swan Song. That being said, she does well at making them more like “Easter eggs” to be spotted by fans than spoilers of those novels.

In conclusion, you really can’t go wrong in any order in which you choose to read Swan Song.


About Elin Hilderbrand

about

A Pennsylvania native, Elin Hilderbrand, is a Nantucket-based American author known for her bestselling beach read novels, novellas, and short stories. Her captivating novels blend romance, high-class drama, and picturesque Nantucket settings.

She graduated from Johns Hopkins University and pursued her graduate studies at the famed University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop.

She debuted with The Beach Club in 2000 and has since published over 25 novels, amidst personal challenges, including a battle with breast cancer.

Learn More: Elin Hilderbrand’s website

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Swan Song Elin Hilderbrands’ last book?

Yes. Elin Hilderbrand plans to retire in 2024 after the release of her last book, Swan Song. However, she signed a deal to co-write two books with her daughter, Shelby Cunningham, to be published in 2024 and 2025.

What books should I read before Swan Song by Elin Hilderbrand?

Swan Song (2024) is the fourth book in Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket series, which also includes A Summer Affair (2008), The Castaways (2009), and The Perfect Couple (2018). You can read Swan Song as a standalone novel or you can read it as the fourth novel in this series.

Is Elin Hilderbrand retiring?

Yes. In 2021, Elin Hilderbrand announced plans to retire in 2024. Swan Song will be her final novel. However, she signed a deal to co-write two books with her daughter, Shelby Cunningham, to be published in 2024 and 2025.

Conclusion

These Swan Song book club questions help you dive into Elin Hilderbrand’s last book and have fun doing so. Your book club will love reading and discussing this beach read while you have a pink and white party reminiscent of the novel. You’ll have more lively talks about Nantucket and its “rich people problems,” so much so that you’ll be tickled pink!

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