If you are wondering where to start or what to read next by Elin Hilderbrand, look no further, as this post contains the best Elin Hilderbrand books. If I could read only one author for the rest of my life it would be Elin Hilderbrand.
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are my happy places, and since most of her books take place there, they always feel like a mental escape to me. And I love how, while they are beach reads, the characters and storylines have some complexity. As a self-proclaimed preppie, I also love that these are books with preppy details!
Below are details of Elin Hilderbrand’s new book and my reviews of the best Elin Hilderbrand books, with personal recommendations of my favorites so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
Elin Hilderbrand’s New Book
Elin Hilderbrand’s new book is Golden Girl, which will be released on June 1, 2021.
In Golden Girl, Vivian Howe, a beach novel author and the mother of three nearly-grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident near her Nantucket home. As she ascends to “the Beyond,” she watches what happens on earth for one last summer.
She also has three “nudges” to change the outcome of the earthly events. Her daughter Willa is on her third miscarriage, her son Carson is partying until all hours, and her son Leo is currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, so she must use her nudges wisely.
But her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth. And when truths come to light, her family is left to sort out their mistakes.
It seems that Golden Girl will be an emotional and heartfelt beach book unlike any other.
Top 3 Elin Hilderbrand Books
If you are extra curious or in a rush, my top 3 best Elin Hilderbrand books, in order, are:
- Summer of ’69 – light historical fiction drama set during a momentous Summer in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard
- 28 Summers – a tear-jerker with a wealth of pop culture references
- The Perfect Couple – the ultimate “death at a wedding” in Nantucket mystery.
Best Elin Hilderbrand Books
My #2 Top Pick
Best for those who enjoy popular culture references and decades-long romances
28 Summers lived up to all my expectations of a classic Elin book — preppy Nantucket setting, light but still has substance, well-drawn-out characters, realistic but still clever dialogue, compulsively readable … I feel like I can go on forever!
It’s about two people who decide to have a “same time next year” meeting that lasts each Labor Day weekend over the course of … you guessed it … 28 Summers. Naturally, this becomes more complicated with age, marriage and kids.
While I can normally be critical about books glamorizing affairs, I thought this book did it in a really smart way that made sense and showed that all relationships are different and complex. I can also be critical of books dealing with 9/11 (sometimes it feels wrongly used for the sake of drama to me), but I thought this one handled it well.
And I would be remiss not to mention my favorite part — each “year” came with a rundown of all the pop culture items we were talking about at the time — including some of my personal faves: Dunder Mifflin in 2008, the Villanova Wildcats in 2016 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018! It was just a really fun addition to a book taking place over a few decades.
28 Summers was a 5 STAR read for me. I read it during the midst of the Coronavirus quarantine and honestly felt like it “saved” me during this experience. For that reason, I named it one of my best books of 2020.
The Blue Bistro
Best for foodies
Going into The Blue Bistro, I only knew that it was a Summer romance taking place at a Nantucket restaurant, and that it was one of Hilderbrand’s more beloved books. I was not expecting the emotional ride this book took me on!
It begins with a simple sentence that ends up meaning so much:
“Adrienne needed a job.”Elin Hilderbrand
After Adrienne lands an assistant manager position for the last Summer acclaimed restaurant The Blue Bistro will be in business, she lives an entire lifetime in the span of three months. She starts dating her boss and part-owner of the restaurant, Thatcher, but there’s a third wheel in this relationship — Thatcher’s business partner and lifelong friend — Chef Fiona, who is reclusive and hiding a very big secret.
The descriptions of food in The Blue Bistro were nothing short of delectable and tantalizing, from the opening pages, containing a full menu of farm-fresh delights to the daily tomato specials in the month of August.
And the restaurant environment feels so real and alive that you can envision yourself actually working there, from the bustling bar to the melodic piano and the ocean views, along with the regular patrons and lively staff. I could feel the influence of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential within the pages. Magnifique!
There were some plot issues, and most of the reviews I read reflect that. All three of the main characters had some really unlikable personality traits. And the ending leaves multiple loose ends. That being said, I was still fully immersed in The Blue Bistro and really enjoyed it overall.
Here’s to Us
Best for those who love beach reads and “rich people problems”
Here’s to Us is the story of what happens after the unexpected death of middle-aged celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe on his beloved getaway island of Nantucket.
His three very different ex-wives gather at his Nantucket cottage to spread his ashes and honor his memory: Laurel (a social worker who was his high school sweetheart), Belinda (a Hollywood star) and Scarlett (a Southern belle who was his family’s nanny).
Along with Deacon’s children, this makes for a full house, filled, naturally with the drama and “rich people problems” that are characteristic of Hilderbrand’s novels.
Here’s to Us is about mending fractures and moving forward. With a celebrity chef at the heart of the novel, it’s also filled with foodie references and actual recipes, reminiscent of Hilderbrand’s beloved book, The Blue Bistro. Her love of food shines through her words in both novels, so if you enjoyed one, you may enjoy the other.
I found it to be a longer than necessary, but overall a nice light beach read.
Best for fans of family / sibling drama
I loved the concept of The Identicals from the outset — identical twin ladies almost age 40, were split by their divorcing parents as children — Tabitha stayed in Nantucket with their fashion designer mother and Harper went to Martha’s Vineyard with their father.
Around age 25, the twins became further estranged by a tragic event, the exact details of which unfold over the course of the novel. When they experience difficult events (not to give anything away) with their parents, they “switch” islands for a Summer and tackle both their past and present lives.
I loved how The Identicals incorporated more of Martha’s Vineyard (my favorite of the two islands) than most of her other books and loved all the references to our favorite spots there. For this reason, this book made my list of best books set in Martha’s Vineyard.
One thing that did make me cringe was some of the adult behavior of the twins toward each other felt immature and just plain mean to me. I really don’t like it when adult siblings take “revenge” on each other, I would just rather them stay away from each other if they don’t get along.
Those parts of The Identicals were small, though, and overall it was another really enjoyable Elin read for me.
The Perfect Couple
My #3 Top Pick
Best for fans of thrillers/mysteries
The Perfect Couple truly transported me to the island of Nantucket while indulging in this “death at a wedding” mystery. It’s one of my favorite books about weddings!
As you try to figure out whether the death was an accident or murder (and if so, whodunnit?), you learn that all the major players have secrets making them darker than their glossy exteriors. Oh, the drama and intrigue!
While the bride and groom may not be the “perfect couple” after all, this is quite literally the “perfect” book for Summer and/or a beach and/or an escape and/or all of the above.
And, by the way, while I have been correctly guessing the ending of the recent thrillers I have read, I did *not* correctly guess this ending of The Perfect Couple, so bonus points! I didn’t really find any “cons” in this book.
Best for fans of middle-aged protagonists
Silver Girl has been a popular Elin Hilderbrand backlist book, and it lived up to my expectations, with some common themes of her books and some unique themes.
One thing I really liked about it is that it was about middle-aged women, which isn’t always at the heart of Hilderbrand’s books. Meredith Delinn has lost everything, all because her husband Freddy cheated investors out of billions of dollars. Looking at this type of scandal from the perspective of the wife of an imprisoned man was unique, and I had empathy for Meredith’s struggles in dealing with public notoriety and managing feelings of guilt that she benefited from Freddy’s wealth as his wife.
Silver Girl is also very much about friendship as opposed to love, as Meredith’s old friend Connie contacts her to heal together in a Summer on Nantucket, after Connie’s husband’s death.
The story weaves in the history of their lives, loves and friendship as they came of age in the Philadelphia suburbs. It’s a great Summer read about starting over later in life and looking back on your past decisions.
Summer of ’69
My #1 Top Pick
Best for fans of historical fiction with an uplifting tone
Summer of ’69 is:
- my favorite Elin Hilderbrand book
- one of my favorite books of 2019, and
- one of the best Summer books!
It has a bit of so many things I adore: historical fiction; family drama; Martha’s Vineyard; and pop culture.
The plot follows the Levin family during a monumental Summer in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Whereas they usually all spend the Summer in Nantucket with their grandmother, this year, Blair is pregnant with twins in Boston, Kirby is working in Martha’s Vineyard, Tiger is fighting in Vietnam and only young Jessie is vacationing with their grandmother in Nantucket.
When the Summer of ’69 heats up, Senator Ted Kennedy’s car sinks in Chappaquiddick in Martha’s Vineyard, causing the death of a woman. And, man flies to the moon, all amidst a backdrop of civil rights and war.
Summer of ’69 keeps you immersed in the family’s lives and it transports you to the 60s at the same time for an extremely satisfying read.
Based on the quality of writing and how much this book accomplishes, I recommend this one the highest of all Elin Hilderbrand’s books.
For more, read my full review of Summer of ’69.
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
Best for fans of stories about family secrets
Winter in Paradise will whisk you away to St. John, for a change of scene from Elin’s usual Nantucket setting. As a middle ages Irene rings in a cold Midwestern New Year, a shocking phone call changes everything. She learns that her beloved husband, who was away on “business,” was killed in a helicopter crash on the Caribbean island.
After Irene and her two sons arrive in St. John, they soon discover that Irene’s husband was living a secret life involving some of the locals. This one is pure drama and Winter escapism, with some heart.
Best for the month of December
Winter Street is one of my favorite Christmas books and one of the best Elin Hilderbrand books. It has just about everything you want in a festive novel – a bit of family drama, a bit of romance and a bit of holiday spirit, with a preppy twist.
Kelley Quinn is the owner of the Nantucket Winter Street Inn, as well as the father of four grown children, all of whose personal lives are turned upside down.
The oldest, Patrick, is a hedge fund manager facing a white-collar crime. Bartender Kevin is having a secret affair with the Inn’s housekeeper. Teacher Ava is dealing with a boyfriend with a fear of commitment. And Bart, the youngest (and the only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi) is overseas in the Marines.
As Christmas approaches, Kelley walks in on his wife Mitzi kissing the Inn’s “Santa Claus,” which brings the family’s drama to a head.
Only Kelley’s first wife, famous news anchor Margaret Quinn, can attempt to save Christmas in Winter Street.
Those are the best Elin Hilderbrand books.
Note: I did not include Summerland because I could not get into it and did not finish it. All other Elin Hilderbrand books not included are those I have not yet read.
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