We all know them – the perfect couple. Or are they? The Perfect Couple is the perfect book for Valentine’s Day, because who doesn’t like to read about relationships, perfect and otherwise. At the very least, you can escape winter for a few hours – just keep an eye out for any dead bodies washing up on shore!
The Publisher’s Blurb:
It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer – the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.
But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect. Featuring beloved characters from The Castaways, Beautiful Day, and A Summer Affair, The Perfect Couple proves once again that Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of the summer beach read.
A bit about the Author:
Elin Hilderbrand is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and the Iowa Writers Workshop. She has lived on Nantucket for 25 years and is the mother of three teenagers. The Perfect Couple is her twenty-first novel.
My Goodreads Review:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Perfect Beach Read. Her best book yet, the usual island fare with the added twist of a murder mystery. After a dead body is found floating in the water the morning of a fancy wedding all the guests and family members are suspects. Intricately plotted, the characters and descriptions are so real you will feel like you just spent a week on Nantucket. If you take this book to the beach you will not look up once it is so engrossing…..I could hardly put it down. I hope she does more murder mysteries…..looking forward to her new winter series.
The first book in my Literary Salon series – An Unwanted Guest – was a study in plot development, just how does one plot a murder mystery? One of the reasons I chose this second book was for it’s characterizations. If you have written 21 novels, how do you keep coming up with new characters? Or are they just cookie-cutter people – change the job, name, appearance? Her characters are usually flawed beings who make bad choices. They drink a lot….like fish since we’re going with the water theme. Sometimes they are so annoying and make such stupid decisions that you feel like abandoning them altogether. You want the reader to like your characters or at least sympathize with them, not think they are fools. (Note to self – make my characters smarter and sober…..no vino for them).
Elin Hilderbrand is the Queen of Beach Fluff, a genre that is often romance but usually just something lighthearted enough to take to the beach. She comes out with a big fat beach novel every July, and often a short novella before Christmas. While I have always enjoyed her books, I had grown a bit weary of the format. The same old bed-hopping, drinking, even worse drinking while driving, piss-poor parents (her words) whose uncontrollable teenagers are doing the same thing – tale grows stale after awhile, and I admit the books wouldn’t be half as appealing if they weren’t set on the island of Nantucket. (In much the same way I had tired of Joanna Trollope but her last novel, An Unsuitable Match, about a late in life marriage, was actually quite good – but that’s a whole other topic). These books are fast food fiction, you already know what you are going to get. There’s usually plenty of family dynamics and complicated romances all destined to work out (or not) in the end, because hey – it’s beach fluff. But in this her latest book, you have all of the above, plus she has added a murder mystery and the book seems to have taken on a more serious tone. She is older now and survived breast cancer in 2014. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of it, and hope she does more in that vein. I am currently reading the first of her new winter series, Winter in Paradise – see link, in which a wife loses her husband of 25 years in a helicopter crash in the US Virgin Islands, and finds out he had a whole other life on the island. (not good – back to trashy again….five drinks on a boat cruise before 10am????) In the jacket blurb the author says she vacations on St. John’s for five weeks every spring, so she can get big chunks of her writing done in privacy. (maybe that’s my problem – I need to rent a Caribbean villa with turquoise views). She does seem to like writing about islands, and the island lifestyle. She’s certainly been a very successful author financially, and if the format works keep at it, but I can’t help but wish she would tone it down a bit. But then I probably fall into this category, wherein, Tag the father in law, (who was having an affair with the maid of honor), describes the average reader of his wife’s books.
‘Her fan base is nearly down to no one but the devoted cat ladies. Tag is thinking about the devoted cat lady – tucked away in her Cotswold cottage fixing a cup of tea and preparing to spend a rainy afternoon in an armchair with a tabby spread across her lap as she cracks open the latest exotically located Greer Garson mystery.’
In his view, this is a dull life, but it sounds appealing to me and I don’t even own a cat. But then I am older and her books are pretty much the only romance genre I read. Although she is a good storyteller, I sometimes find her books are just too trashy. I would love to see what she does with a theme and characters a little less shallow….and a little less preoccupied with booze and infidelity. That may seem like an odd thing to criticize as we read escapist fiction to escape, but she is such a good writer that I wish she would tackle some more important stuff, like Jodi Picoult does. Despite that, The Perfect Couple does have something to say about relationships, both old (how many long term couples stay together for financial reasons despite the affairs) and new, plus a riveting story-line. If you grew up in the eighties with the Not-Married- Before-Thirty-Terrorist Theory of Love and rom.coms like When Harry Met Sally (doomed IMO, totally incompatible all that arguing) and Sleepless in Seattle (flying all the way across the country to meet someone whose voice you liked on the radio?) then love at first sight may seem perfectly plausible – but do the couple at the end of the book stand a chance? What do they know about each other? Yes, there are red flags, but isn’t it all unpredictable anyway – fate is fickle. Success in love and marriage happens for some people and not others, but hopefully you don’t drown in the process.
Quote of the Day: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want, is a wonderful stroke of luck.” (Dali Lama)
Song of the Day: Makin’ Whoopee – because the lyrics are fun