Nantucket Nights

I’ve heard a lot about Elin Hilderbrandt, especially since she recently had a new book out this summer “SUMMERLAND,” July 2012. So, when my book club picked her 2009 release “Nantucket Nights,” I thought I’d also review it for this paper. I’m sad to say I did not enjoy it whatsoever.

Kayla, Val and Antoinette have been friends for 20 years, since sharing a place together during a summer on Nantucket Island in college. They had nothing in common, but ultimately bonded and each year they go on a night swim where they drink, share secrets and run around naked. Everything goes fine until Kayla makes a drunken comment about Antoinette and their friend swims out to sea and disappears.

After this, a bunch of secrets come out, mostly the kind that torpedo Kayla’s life, and she’s even suspected of murder thanks to some crazy, completely unbelievable choices she makes right after Antoinette disappears. This plot point really goes nowhere.

The secrets are so exhausting and overwrought that I really won’t get into them, plus they would be pretty major spoilers. We’ll just say there’s a lot Kayla doesn’t know about Antoinette, Val and even her own family.

The main problem in the story for me was that the characters are just so utterly hateful. Everyone is lying to everyone, everyone is betraying everyone and no one seems to think it is out of place. No one ever stands up and says, “wow this is crappy.”

Then, there’s a major cop-out when Kayla realizes everyone did everything to… I guess protect her? By almost getting her arrested and making her life hell?

In truth, there is a way to make characters compelling, even when they are doing foolish, unlikeable and unbelievable things. See my review of Gillian Flynn’s, “Gone Girl” from July. But, Hilderbrandt just doesn’t manage to do them here, which left me disappointed, annoyed and just glad when the book was  over.

I’ve heard such good things about her books, too, and maybe this just wasn’t the right one for me. Please give me suggestions if this is an author I should try again. I can’t give Nantucket Nights anything better than 2.5-stars.

(Editor’s Note: Email thoughts and ideas to Jesse Petersen at


Nantucket Nights

By: Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 240

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Price: $9.99 paperback/

$7.99 Kindle & Nook

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