(Elin Hilderbrand Cunningham)
ADDRESSES: Home—Nantucket, MA. Office—Nantucket Preservation Trust, 2 Union St., Nantucket Island, MA 02554.
CAREER: Worked as a paralegal for attorney Richard Loftin, Nantucket, MA; Nantucket Preservation Trust, Nantucket, director.
The Beach Club (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Nantucket Nights (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Summer People (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
The Blue Bistro (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to journals, including Massachusetts Review and Colorado Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Elin Hilderbrand is the author of a number of novels that are all set on the historic island of Nantucket, which is also her home. Her first novel, The Beach Club, features Mack Peterson, a man originally from Iowa who has been managing the Nantucket Beach Club and Hotel for eleven years. As the new season begins, he considers whether he would like to buy the hotel from owners Bill and Therese Elliot, the parents of rebellious eighteen-year-old Cecily. Mack has a beautiful girlfriend, Maribel Cox, who is hinting about a wedding, an elderly friend named Lacey Gardner, and an enemy, Vance Robbins, who once vied with Mack for his job but who is now a bellboy. Other characters include a new receptionist who has a special reason for finding a man, and another man who gives Mack competition for Maribel. The relationships between the characters are complicated when a hurricane threatens the resort. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "though somewhat predictable, these summer escapades have a strong emotional pull, and readers will remain absorbed until the surprising denouement." Booklist contributor Deborah Rysso considered The Beach Club to be a "delectably dramatic debut novel."
In Nantucket Nights the main characters are Kayla, Antoinette, and Valerie, three women who have known each other for two decades. The novel is about their relationships as they continue their tradition of celebrating over the Labor Day weekend with lobster, champagne, skinny dipping, and soul-baring. This story was followed by Summer People, which also features a woman character and a vacation tradition on Nantucket. Beth Newton and her teenage twins, Garrett and Winnie, are beginning their annual Nantucket vacation without their father, Arch, as the book opens. Arch is not there with them because he perished in a plane crash. However, before he died, he invited Marcus, the son of a black woman he was defending in a murder trial. Added to this mix during an unusual vacation for the family is David, an old love of Beth's who is showing new interest in her. The story was characterized as "more entertaining beach reading" by Booklist contributor Beth Leistensnider.
The eatery in The Blue Bistro is an exclusive ocean-side restaurant owned by Thatcher Smith, who plans to close it after the season ends. His talented chef is the reclusive Fiona Kemp, with whom he eats dinner every night after the restaurant closes. Into their lives comes Adrienne Dealey, a seasonal worker newly arrived from Aspen who is looking for employment. Although she has no restaurant experience, Thatcher hires her anyway, and she proves to be a quick learner. She soon finds herself falling in love with Thatcher, but she is confused as to why Fiona is so abrupt with her. The other question in this novel is why such a fabulous, popular restaurant is closing. Other characters include a handsome bartender and an ambitious pastry chef. As with her previous novels, Hilderbrand provides more than a story as she describes the beautiful island of Nantucket and all that it has to offer. Joanne Wilkinson, writing in Booklist, called the novel "fun, stylish, and absorbing vacation reading."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2000, Deborah Rysso, review of The Beach Club, p. 1730; March 15, 2002, Beth Warrell, review of Nantucket Nights, p. 1211; June 1, 2003, Beth Leistensnider, review of Summer People, p. 1743; May 15, 2005, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Blue Bistro, p. 1636.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of Nantucket Nights, p. 278; April 1, 2005, review of The Blue Bistro, p. 374.
Publishers Weekly, May 29, 2000, review of The Beach Club, p. 51; May 27, 2002, review of Nantucket Nights, p. 39; May 30, 2005, review of The Blue Bistro, p. 40.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (January 10, 2006), Sandra Calhoune, review of The Blue Bistro.