Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Barefoot, by Elin Hilderbrand


The last book I read and reviewed by Elin Hilderbrand, A Summer Affair, left me a bit cold, but I forged on and read her next, Barefoot. I will tell you straight out. Skip the first and start this one. They are not a series, and they are as different as night and day. I identified with it, I cried when I read parts of it. In short, I loved it.

The story revolves around three women, two sisters and a friend, who head to Nantucket for the summer, each with their own disaster story. Vicki has lung cancer and must undergo chemo before life saving surgery. Brenda, her younger sister, has just been fired from her coveted university job because she had an affair with her male student, who, while a year older than she is,  is still off limits. Melanie, Vicki's best friend,  rounds out the trio. She's pregnant after a long bout of infertility, and is  separated from her husband, who is having an affair with a work colleague. Have I lost you yet? I hope not.

Their story is wound together in an interesting tapestry by Josh Flynn, a college senior who is hired to babysit Vicki's kids while she undergoes treatment. What Josh doesn't expect is to have feelings for all three women, and one in particular. His role as surrogate mother, father and lover in that little cottage on the beach  pulls the story neatly together and makes it all real.

Elin Hilderbrand redeems herself in my eyes in this novel. The one thing I look for when I read a novel is to be pulled into a story and to be able to relate, in some way, to the characters and their dilemmas.  And the greatest compliment I can pay to a book and its author is that I didn't want to see it end. In this case, I wish this summer would have gone on forever.

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