Saturday, July 5, 2008

Review: A Summer Affair

I'm a pretty big Elin Hilderbrand fan. Once I read The Blue Bistro a few years ago, I went back and checked out all of her previous novels. I love the setting of Nantucket, and the author also has a gift for describing food (and it usually plays a part in her books). As a foodie, I'm sold on that aspect.

Here's the basic storyline: When glassblower Claire Danner Crispin, wife and mom to four children, is approached to co-chair the island's annual charity Summer Gala, she doesn't expect to fall for the head of the foundation. However, fall she does, and the gala (and the affair) take over her life. She's asked to create a one-of-a-kind glass piece for the auction, as well as recruit her high school boyfriend, now a major rock star, as the talent. Claire is a "yes" woman, so she tries to be everything to everyone...and her chief motivation is guilt. As you can imagine, mayhem ensues.

Okay, this book was a little different for me. It was definitely engaging, and I sped through the 400+ pages, sometimes finding myself scanning a few paragraphs ahead because I was so interested to see what happens.

However, I just had a hard time liking Claire. I didn't relate to her, and I didn't understand her. I got to the point where I thought, she either needs to start making some good decisions or get her just desserts. I felt sorry for her husband, her children, her best friend, and I had a hard time justifying her actions and reconciling her behavior. I kept thinking, this is just headed for disaster, which kind of bummed me out.

That said, there are a few things to like about this novel. There's the author's intimate knowledge of the island and its unique social dynamic. There's the interesting element of the art of glassblowing, a result of obvious significant research on the author's part. And what about the food element, you ask? Well, Claire's sister-in-law is a caterer, so there you go.

This wasn't my favorite of hers, but I still think this will be a pretty successful novel, given the author's track record and the fact that it's on every summer beach bag list out there. I also think it probably would be a good book club choice, raising many questions and provoking a lively discussion.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

You reviewed this much better than I did. I was so annoyed. I have loved all of her other books. I am already looking forward to her next book.