Elin Hilderbrand writes serious beach books

David Wilson

“Beautiful Day,” Elin Hilderbrand 12th novel, is a bestseller in Boston (and beyond), but like all the author’s books, its roots and heart are in Nantucket. Hilderbrand has lived on the island for 20 years now, and its spell hasn’t been broken yet. The Globe talked with her over the phone as she awaited a flight to that other island, Martha’s Vineyard.

An unabashed fan of summer — and “all the trappings of the American summer,” from beaches to carnivals, from ice cream to miniature golf — Hilderbrand says she’s not offended when her books show up on lists for beach reading. “In writing about Nantucket, I ended up writing what people perceive to be beach books,” she says. Still with a steady stream of successful novels, she’s a writer worth taking seriously.

After her previous novel, “Summerland,” which Hilderbrand points out was “relatively dark, and sort of gritty and difficult,” the new book is light and summery and celebratory — at its center is a wedding, after all — yet it’s not “unserious.”


“I call it the wedding book,” Hilderbrand says, “but really it’s a book about marriage. I hit every point on the possible spectrum of marriages, from the best marriages to the worst marriages, from the worst divorce to the best divorce.”

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Hilderbrand built her writing career while raising three kids (now 13, 11, and 7), whom she ferries to sporting events on-island and off. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she says.

“If you do something that you love and you get paid for it,” she points out, “you’ve already had your dream come true.”

In addition to writing, another of those dreams is fulfilled every day. “I went to Nantucket for the summer and I thought, I am never leaving,” says Hilderbrand, who has lived year-round on the island ever since. “I love it here.”

Kate Tuttle can be reached at