The Five Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

Hopefully the idea of summer reading brings to mind getting outside, perhaps on the beach, and taking time to get lost in a good book or two.  In Libraryland this type of book is usually called a beach read, even if you’re not at the beach. They usually end up being some of my favorites each year. In my mind beach reads are light, fluffy, hard to put down quick reads that one would want to take on vacation.  They can be hardcover or paperback, but softcovers are my go to, since they are lighter and take up less space, allowing me to pack even more books.  Which do you prefer: hardcovers, paperbacks, or maybe even your Kindle or iPhone for eBook reading?  

Either way, you cannot go wrong, reading is reading, and as we move into a time of warmer temperatures and greener spaces, I love to think about what my summer reading will shape up to include.  One title that I would recommend adding to your list now is THE FIVE STAR WEEKEND by Elin Hilderbrand. It has all the elements of a great beach read – summer setting, compulsively readable, and just a hint of romance.

From her social media accounts Hollis Shaw’s life looks picturesque and perfect.  She’s married to Matthew, a heart surgeon, lives in a large, modern house, spends summers in Nantucket, has raised a smart, accomplished daughter who is away at college, and has a popular food blog called Hungry with Hollis. 

But after a winter-time accident that takes Matthew’s life right before Christmas, Hollis’ world comes crashing down. She tries to find comfort in her work and her daughter, but neither offers the support she needs. The only bright spot is a woman who she met through her blog – Gigi Ling.  Gigi offers a compassionate, listen ear and Hollis is so thankful for her friendship. However, after Hollis makes a heartbreaking confession about having a fight with Matthew before his accident, Gigi disappears, too.

As the seasons change from winter to summer, Hollis does what she normally does, returns home to Nantucket.  She hopes this might help improve her mental outlook, but it is only harder because Nantucket contains a version of Matthew that was more relaxed and fun when they were there.  The memories are unbearably hard for Hollis.  She is having trouble sleeping and eating, until one day she finds an article on the internet about what another widow did to help herself after the death of her husband.  It’s called The Five Star Weekend.

The premise of The Five Star Weekend is that you invite one friend from each phase of your life, for a total of four friends, on a trip, or as Hollis does, to your home, to spend the weekend together celebrating the friendships that have helped make you who you are today. 

Hollis loves this idea – “five women together for the weekend, and a weekend filled with elevated experiences worthy of five stars.” She immediately starts to organize her own Five Star Weekend with her friends and plans to have them visit in two weeks.  She invites her childhood best friend Tatum, her college best friend Dru-Ann, her “prime of life” best friend Brooke, and she struggles for a fourth friend, but finally settles on Gigi Ling.  

What could possibly go wrong?  Hollis soon finds out that her vision of a low-key weekend is not to be had.  Her friends are there to support her, but they all have past or current drama that keeps getting mixed in with the girls’ weekend activities. Shenanigans ensue and secrets abound.  All making for a delightful, dramatic read.

Not everyone can go to Nantucket this summer, but readers can get a glimpse of what it might be like through Elin Hilderbrand’s eyes. THE FIVE STAR WEEKEND is a pleasure to read.  

Here are a few more of my favorite beach reads from year’s past: 

Review written by: Jeana Gockley, Joplin Public Library Director

Find the book in the catalog.