Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Review: Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand

**** 4 Stars

This is the second book I have read by Elin Hilderbrand, I've previously read The Castaways, which I loved and was pleased to receive a copy of her latest book Beautiful Day from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.

The Blurb

A summer wedding stirs up trouble on both sides of the family in this new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.

The Carmichaels and Grahams have gathered on Nantucket for a wedding. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride's late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter's future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event--but in reality, things are far from perfect.

While the couple-to-be are quite happy, their loved ones find their own lives crumbling. In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken and healed. Elin Hilderbrand takes readers on a touching journey in BEAUTIFUL DAY--into the heart of marriage, what it means to be faithful, and how we choose to honor our commitments

My Thoughts

The first two things that I have to say about this book are that I loved the cover, so pretty, beautiful & dreamy and also Hilderbrand's dedication to her grandparents really choked me up.

So the story starts out with an invitation to the wedding of Jenna Carmichael and Stuart Graham and we are taken right to Nantucket Island where both families are beginning to gather for the impending nuptials. Only not everything is quite as it seems, Jenna and Stuart are totally loved up and can't wait to be married but there are so many secrets and so much intrigue on both sides of the family that you are left wondering if the wedding will ever take place.

Jenna's decisions regarding her wedding day re entirely influenced by Beth, her dead mother, who has left The Notebook with her own thoughts & ideas for what seems like every part of the wedding. As the mother of two teenage daughters I can't even begin to imagine not being around for their special day so the idea of leaving behind something so that they feel I am with them really touched me. At times it almost felt as though she was right there, holding Jenna's hand.

There are lots of characters in this book and for the most part they are quite unlikeable, entitled rich people who are selfish and only looking out for themselves. Don't get me started on some of the names, seriously Drum, Beanie, Edge but once I got past that I enjoyed the book and loved seeing how all the characters played off each other. Weddings really are a mix of people who you wouldn't normally find together. I'm sure in everyones family there is that weird uncle or crazy aunt who we try to avoid so it is inevitable that bringing both families together on an island for a wedding is going to lead to lots of drama. The characters all have their flaws and with the emotions around the wedding running high, there is a lot that could potentially bring the wedding plans crashing down.

A lot of the story is told through the eyes of Margot, Jenna's older sister and Matron of Honour, who is a mum of three and is still reeling from her failed marriage. She is carrying some rather large secrets and is really quite bitter about everything including the wedding and isn't afraid to tell people that she no longer believes in love. She even goes as far as to say:

"Divorce, Jenna, is paying for your wedding."

Which is a reference to the fact that their father, Doug Carmichael, is a successful family lawyer.

Doug Carmichael, is a man still in love with his wife who he lost 7 years ago. He has married again but it quickly becomes apparent that his marriage to his wife, Pauline, is collapsing and the final nail in the coffin is when she reads The Notebook. She has been feeling totally left out about everything concerning the wedding and is very much having to live as second best to the ghost of Beth. I can't work out if I was supposed to feel sorry for Pauline but by the end of the book I felt nothing for her. She really brought everything on herself and seemed to be very manipulative.

Then the other main player in the story is Ann Graham, mother of the groom and state senator. She clearly loves her sons and only wants the best for them but there is an edge of snootiness about her but she works hard through the book to overcome that. This includes inviting her husband's ex-wife to the wedding which can only lead to trouble.

As I said the characters have their flaws, a lot of them are people you would not like to be friends with but this all helps to add tension to the book. It also helps to add humour and at times I did find myself laughing out loud. 

She would look awful in the photographs, like a frog that had been through the blender.
Overall the book was an enjoyable read that looked at the highs and lows that come with marriage. The grief that comes with losing a loved one and how people deal with such loss on those memorable occasions. A very touching heartfelt read with a little humour thrown in.

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