Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Published: October 2014, Little, Brown & Company
Format: ARC paperback, 256 pages
In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand's first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.
Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.
As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.
Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.
My thoughts: Each year, I mark the beginning of the summer with a new book by one of my favorite authors, Elin Hilderbrand. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found out that this year she would be publishing a Christmas novel to be released in the fall. And, I just happened to get my hands on an advanced copy at BEA where I was able to meet Elin and have her sign the book!
This story is a beautifully written Christmas novel that will certainly get you in the holiday spirit. It centers around the Quinn family and takes place over the course of three days - December 23 through December 25, though there are some flash backs interspersed throughout. Instead of chapters, the story is told by the different members of the Quinn family, so it alternates back and forth amongst these individuals. I loved this way of telling the story as it really allows us to get inside each character to really understand them.
The Quinn family is about to have a Christmas to remember, but not in a positive way. Everything that can go wrong, goes wrong, but there is some good that comes out of it - mainly that family is always there to bolster you up when you need it. The ending is somewhat bittersweet and leaves things a bit open-ended. I wonder, as this book is quoted as being Elin's "first Christmas novel," if she writes more, will they be stand-alones as we usually get from her or if there will be a sequel to this book?
I loved this little visit to Nantucket during the holidays. While most of the story does take place at the Winter Street Inn, we do get glimpses of the town itself. Throughout the book, Ava, Quinn's daughter, is asked to play Christmas carols and it definitely helps put you in that holiday frame of mind. Elin Hilderbrand shares that her favorite carol is "O Holy Night;" mine is "Silent Night." What's yours?