Elin Hildebrand not only writes about life on Nantucket Island, she lives there also. So far, she has written 19 novels about that fascinating island which is 4 miles wide by 13 miles long. No wonder that it was easy to conjure up a story about rumors which circulated on this small island of year-long residents. Many of Hildebrand’s novels have been best-selling books, fueled possibly by their being publicized as “beach reads.”
Nantucket Island - Wikimedia
“The Rumor” is actually about many rumors which are passed around by neighbors and friends on Nantucket. Madeline King and Grace Pancik and best friends who talk every day, are each happily married and involved in the lives of their children. Madeline, however, is an author who has come down with writer’s block at a time when she has a deadline to meet with her publisher to come up with an idea for her next novel.
Grace’s husband Eddie, known as “Fast Eddie,” is a real-estate developer on the island with a highly successful business. Their twin daughters, Allegra and Hope, are total opposites. Allegra has had a long-standing relationship with Madeline’s son, Brick. Grace has a beautiful garden where she spends a great deal of time, In fact, she has hired a contractor to help her in her garden. He has helped to the point where the Boston Globe has offered to devote an article to Grace’s garden in the upcoming months.
The Garden Contractor
The contractor, Benton Coe, spends a great deal of time with Grace in the garden, so much so that Grace has acquired a crush on the man. Perhaps Eddie’s absorption in his business has left Grace lonely and vulnerable to romance in another direction. The crush escalates when Benton brings mint tea and macaron cookies to their garden sessions. The garden shed provided enough privacy to allow Benton to kiss Grace, a privilege that she did not forbid. That was the beginning.
Of course, since Madeline and Grace were best friends, it did not take long before Grace told Madeline about her newfound love. Although Madeline warned Grace to be careful, she was putting her marriage and family in jeopardy, Grace continued on with her obsession without Eddie finding out about it.
Which brings us to the dilemma which Madeline is undergoing currently - her lack of a plot for her promised new novel which was approaching its deadline. A romance between a garden contractor and a wealthy housewife was too much to pass up.
Although Elin Hildebrand denies that her stories are taken from actual occurrences on that hotbed of an island, the reader has to wonder how she comes up with the ideas that find their way into her novels, especially this one about rampant rumors that arise about neighbors and friends. One criticism I have of Hildebrand is her constant reference to name brand clothing, shoes, and jewelry which seems to stem from a desire to let the reader know how savvy she is about modern fads.
Another rumor that has started to make the rounds is the fact that Grace’s daughter Allegra has secretly cheated on Madeline’s son Brick by seeing Ian Coburn, a Boston College student home on vacation. Only Allegra’s sister Hope was informed about it, which Hope reveled in because she herself had a large crush on Brick. The rumor spread fast due to the fact that Allegra and Ian were spotted on top of Ian’s car hood, both in their underwear, with a bottle of whiskey and smoking a joint. The amount of cocaine in Ian’s possession was too small to charge him, and they were both allowed to go free. Allegra was grounded by her father for the incident.
Talk had begun about Eddie’s business at this time. Madeline and her husband Trevor had invested $50,000 with Eddie who had promised them high interest on the investment. Eddie had not been able to sell a property in nine months, and money was getting tight. He was approached by a client who was renting a lavish home through Eddie’s business. He wondered if Eddie would like to use the client’s five Russian cleaning women in a prostitution business which would bring several thousand dollars to Eddie each week. Eddie initially turned down the offer, but when he realized that the proposition would undoubtedly put his business back in the black, he agreed to join his client in the business. The five young women were happy to comply; they would welcome the extra income.
Grace Learns About Madeline’s Latest Novel
Grace got word that Madeline’s latest book was about a garden contractor’s romance with his wealthy client. She confronted Madeline who could not deny the accusation, and their friendship ceased at that time. It was doubly intensified when neighbors reported that Madeline was visiting Eddie frequently at his business office. The idea of a possible romance developing was the subject of the rumor. In reality, Madeline was pressing Eddie to return the $50,000 she had invested with him, which had shown no results. Eddie was obliged to keep putting her off.
Madeline missed her friend Grace’s friendship. She contacted Grace to let her know that she had reneged with her editor on publishing her book. She regarded Grace’s friendship too sacred to lose over that.
Eddie Goes to Prison
Eddie was not so fortunate. His close friend, the Chief of Police, headed up a stakeout to uncover Eddie’s latest venture into prostitution. Eddie was sent to prison for three to five years.
Grace was able to sell their Nantucket home for $3.5 million, and paid Madeline and her husband the $50,000 they had invested with Eddie. Grace and the girls moved into a smaller home which suited them just fine.
I am not certain that I would read another Elin Hildebrand novel, although the titles she chooses are always intriguing, and she does tie up the loose ends proficiently. Yes, it is a good “beach read,” to while away the time when you are sunbathing. That is all the benefit I received from it.