Ah the holidays! Christmas baking, trimming the tree, singing carols… family. There is a reason so many films are made around family reunions for the holidays; because it makes great entertainment!
Just think: The children, the parents, the grandchildren, the in-laws. Now imagine adding stepchildren, stepparents, ex-wifes, affairs, new boyfriends, … Stressed yet?
Elin Hilderbrand is back writing about her favourite island! She herself has been on Nantucket for Christmas for the past 17 years. Just like in her other books (Winter Street, the first one in the series, and others set on the island) she captures the small-island charm, the quaint shops, the idyllic island life and the traditions.
This is the weekend of the famous Winter Stroll on Nantucket and everyone from Winter Street Inn is coming: Kelley, the owner, is there of course, and so is his ex-wife Margaret, who has been helping him get the inn back on track with her celebrity status. Ava is coming – with current boyfriend? Even though son Patrick is in prison, Jennifer is coming with the boys, and of course Kevin with fiancee Isabelle and newborn baby Genevieve. What is better than a family celebration around a christening to bring the family together? So of course, Mitzi has to come whose Kelley’s wife, who left the previous Christmas with George, the inn’s Santa after having a yearly affair with him for twelve years. Only Bart is missing; not just from the festivities. He is missing in action.
Yes, it is complicated! And if you haven’t read Winter Street and don’t know the Quinn family, is it confusing to get into. But slowly you get to know each of them. And their baggage, and their problems.
“It has been a rough year for the Quinns. For those of you who haven’t heard, Mitzi and I have split after twenty-one years of marriage.
Patrick was indicted in January (…) His lovely wife, Jennifer, continues to hold down the fort in his absence. (…)
PFC Batholomew James Quinn, 1st Battalion, 9th Division, deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, on 19 December 2014. His convoy was announced missing by the DoD on 25 December 2014. We have little additional information.”
It is a very honest Christmas letter to friends and family. Is one weekend going to make it better or worse? Will Mitzi be making a drunken scene? Is anyone going to notice Jennifer can’t get through the day without pills?
It is, to say the least, a classic family drama. What makes it most heartwarming is the personal touch Hilderbrand gives her books. Not just the insight into Nantucket no amount of research could achieve, but the personal connection. To best enjoy the book, I advise to start with the Author’s Note.
Winter Stroll, by Elin Hilderbrand
First published October 2015
Featured image taken from Flickr, Massachusetts Office of Trade