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Discover the best Elin Hilderbrand books here. You’ll learn reviews and ratings for the most popular works of the “queen of the beach reads” to help you decide what to read. Plus, get a printable PDF of Elin Hilderbrand’s books in order to track your reading.

the hotel nantucket by elin hilderbrand held up in front of a bookcase.

Best Elin Hilderbrand Books: Top 3 Ranked

TOP PICKS

Summer of ’69: light historical fiction drama set during a momentous summer in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

28 Summers: a tear-jerker with a wealth of pop culture references

The Perfect Couple: the ultimate “death at a wedding” in Nantucket mystery

Top Rated Elin Hilderbrand Books: The Quick List

First, if you’re extra curious or in a rush, below is a quick, shoppable list of all the books that made the list.

Read these books in The Literary Lifestyle’s Summer Reading Challenge for Adults.

10 Best Elin Hilderbrand Books: Reviews and Ratings

Since most of the best Elin Hilderbrand’s books take place in my happy places (Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard), they always feel like a mental escape. I just love how, while Elin Hilderbrand’s preppy books are light beach reads, the characters and storylines have some complexity as well. Get details to decide what to read next from her catalog below.

28 Summers

  • My #2 Top Pick for Elin Hilderbrand’s best book
  • #1 New York Times bestseller

My Review: ★★★★★

Best for fans of popular culture references and “same time next year” romances

28 Summers has it all: a preppy Nantucket setting. It’s light but still has substance. It has well-drawn-out characters and realistic (yet clever) dialogue. Lastly, it’s compulsively readable.

It’s a summer romance novel about two people, Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud, who decide to have a “same time next year” meeting that lasts each Labor Day weekend over the course of, you guessed it, 28 Summers. Naturally, this becomes more complicated with age, marriage, and kids.

While I can normally be critical about books that glamorize affairs, this book did it in a really smart way. It showed that all relationships are different and complex.

Finally, my favorite part was that each “year” included a rundown of all the pop culture items we were talking about at the time. It was a really fun addition to a book set over a few decades.

28 Summers was a 5-star read for me. I read it during the beginning of the Coronavirus quarantine, and I honestly felt like it “saved” me during this dark experience.


Beautiful Day

Best for those who love a sappy wedding story

My Review: ★★★★☆

Beautiful Day is Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket wedding novel. Years earlier, while Carmichael matriarch Beth was living her final days, she detailed instructions for daughter Jenna’s wedding in a “Notebook.”

Years later, she has passed and Jenna is planning her lavish wedding in the backyard of the Nantucket family home per her mother’s wishes. While the idea of a “Notebook” (capital “N”) seems hokey in theory, it worked well in practice. The tone and details were quirky and unique while never being too sentimental or sappy.

Along the way, there are “outtakes” by the guests and all the family drama that comes along with weddings, to keep you entertained and wondering how (and if) the wedding will play out.

I flew through this one!


The Blue Bistro

Best for foodies

My Review: ★★★★☆

Going into The Blue Bistro, I only knew that it was a Summer romance taking place at a Nantucket restaurant.  I was not expecting the emotional ride this book took me on!

Adrienne lands an assistant manager position during the last summer the acclaimed restaurant The Blue Bistro will be in business. In the span of three months, she starts dating her boss, Thatcher Smith, but there’s a third wheel in this relationship—Thatcher’s business partner and lifelong friend, Chef Fiona, who is hiding a very big secret.

The descriptions of the food in The Blue Bistro were nothing short of tantalizing, from the full menu of farm-fresh delights to the daily tomato specials. 

The restaurant environment feels so real and alive that you can envision yourself actually working there, from the bustling bar to the melodic piano and the ocean views. 

There were some plot issues, and most of the reviews I read reflect that.  All three of the main characters had some really unlikable personality traits, and the ending leaves multiple loose ends.  That being said, I was still fully immersed in The Blue Bistro and really enjoyed it overall.  I also know that MANY avid fans of Elin Hilderbrand’s books consider this to be one of her best.


The Hotel Nantucket

  • Instant #1 New York Times bestseller

My Review: ★★★★☆

Best for fans of The Blue Bistro and the TV show Below Deck

Reading Tip: There are lots of references to The Blue Bistro and The Beach Club for fans of those novels, but you need not read them first by any means. I should also mention there’s an amazing guide to Nantucket by Elin at the end, which I saved for future visits.

The Hotel Nantucket is about the summer in which a haunted old hotel is restored to the epitome of luxury and the staff who aims to get it a coveted “5 keys” rating.

Like the TV show Below Deck (which takes place on a luxury boat), the storyline follows drama and love amongst both the staff and the guests throughout the summe. There are even some twists!

Many readers rate it as their favorite Hilderbrand novel to date. For me, it was excellent but still fell below my top 3.

Related Post: Discussion Guide for The Hotel Nantucket


The Love Season

Best for fans of The Blue Bistro and coastal grandmothers

My Review: ★★★★☆

Never has a book ever reminded me more of the coastal grandmother aesthetic!

The Love Season takes place in the course of one day on Nantucket, in which a middle-aged chef who made it on her own, Marguerite, goes about the day running island errands and preparing for a delectable homemade dinner with her recently engaged goddaughter, to whom she must reveal secrets about her past.

Throughout the day, Marguerite also recounts her past and sets the reader off on a jet to luxurious places like Paris, Morroco, and New York.

The novel’s short timeframe of one day and the promise that deep secrets will be revealed also add suspense. It’s everything a coastal grandmother will cherish!


The Perfect Couple (Nantucket Series)

  • My #3 Top Pick for Elin Hilderbrand’s best book
  • Soon to be a Netflix series

Best for fans of thrillers/mysteries

My Review: ★★★★★

The Perfect Couple is one of the best Elin Hilderbrand books because it truly transports you to the island of Nantucket while indulging in this “death at a wedding” mystery.

As you try to figure out whether the death was an accident or murder (and if so, whodunnit?), you learn that all the major players have secrets making them darker than their glossy exteriors.

While the bride and groom may not be the “perfect couple” after all, this is quite literally the “perfect” book for summer.

And, by the way, I did not correctly guess this ending of The Perfect Couple, so bonus points!  It’s easily one of Elin Hilderbrand’s best works.


Silver Girl

Best for fans of middle-aged protagonists

My Review: ★★★★☆

Silver Girl is a popular book on Elin Hilderbrand’s backlist, and it lived up to my expectations. It has some common themes characteristic of her books and some unique themes.

One thing I really liked about it is that it was about middle-aged women, who aren’t often at the heart of books.  

Meredith Martin Delinn has lost everything, all because her husband Freddy cheated investors out of billions of dollars.  Looking at this type of scandal from the perspective of the wife of an imprisoned man was unique. I had empathy for Meredith’s struggles in dealing with public notoriety and managing feelings of guilt that she benefited from Freddy’s wealth as his wife.

Silver Girl is also very much about friendship, as Meredith’s old friend Connie contacts her to heal together in a summer on Nantucket, after Connie’s husband’s death.

The story weaves in the history of their lives, loves, and friendships as they came of age in the Philadelphia suburbs.  It’s a great read about starting over later in life and looking back on your past decisions.


Summer of ’69

  • My #1 Top Pick for the best book by Elin Hilderbrand
  • #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of historical fiction with an uplifting tone

My Review: ★★★★★

Summer of ’69 is my favorite Elin Hilderbrand book and one of my favorite summer books! It perfectly combines historical fiction, family drama, and pop culture.

The plot follows the Levin family during a monumental summer on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

While they usually all spend the summer in Nantucket with their grandmother, this year, Blair is pregnant with twins in Boston, Kirby is working on Martha’s Vineyard, Tiger is fighting in Vietnam, and only young Jessie is with their grandmother on Nantucket.

When the Summer of ’69 heats up, Senator Ted Kennedy’s car sinks in Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard, causing the death of a woman. Additionally, a man flies to the moon, all amidst a backdrop of civil rights and war.

Summer of ’69 keeps you immersed in the family’s lives and transports you to the 60s at the same time, making for an extremely satisfying read. I simply could not stop searching about the book and the historical context!

Related Post: Books About Martha’s Vineyard


Swan Song (2024)

My Review: ★★★★★

Swan Song brings an extravagant new couple, the Richardsons, to Nantucket, but before summer’s end, their flashy multi-million dollar estate burns to the ground and their personal concierge goes missing.

This swiftly thwarts longtime police chief Ed Kapenash’s retirement plans, who becomes embroiled in the investigation one last time.

I always find stories that begin with a house burned to the ground immensely propulsive, and this one certainly did not disappoint. Elin Hilderbrand blended everything her readers crave into one final narrative: characters we know and love, Nantucket references, pop culture references, summer fun, drama, romance, mystery, and “rich people problems.”

In addition, she incorporated the most extravagant parties I’ve ever read about. The pink and white party absolutely blew me away as a reader!

While the loose ends of the mystery tied up a little too quickly and neatly for me, the final chapter was exquisite. I’m tearing up just thinking about the last few sentences!

Related Post: Discussion Questions for Swan Song


Winter in Paradise (Paradise Series)

Best for fans of stories about family secrets

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Winter in Paradise is the first of three novels in Elin Hilderbrand’s Paradise series. It will whisk you away to St. John for a change of scene. As a middle-aged Irene Steele rings in a cold Midwestern New Year, she learns that her beloved husband, Russ, who was away on “business,” was killed in a helicopter crash on the Caribbean island.

After Irene and her two sons, Baker and Cash, arrive at St. John, they discover that Russ was living a secret life involving some of the locals. In the process of coping with their shock and grief, they, too, begin to develop bonds with the islanders he knew.

It’s pure drama and winter escapism, with some heart. It’s a great “pool” read I still see being devoured at the pools I visit to this day.


Winter Street (Winter Series #1 of 4)

Best for the holiday season

My Review: ★★★★☆

In Winter Street, Kelley Quinn owns the Nantucket Winter Street Inn. He is the proud father of four grown children, all of whose personal lives are in a state of chaos as the holiday season approaches.

The oldest, Patrick, is a hedge fund manager dealing with a white-collar crime. Bartender Kevin has a secret relationship with the Inn’s housekeeper. Teacher Ava can’t get her dream boyfriend to commit. And Bart, the youngest, and the only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, is fighting overseas in the Marines.

Christmas approaches, and Kelley walks in on Mitzi kissing the Inn’s Santa Claus, bringing all of the family drama to a head. It becomes up to Kelley’s first wife, famous news anchor Margaret Quinn, to attempt to save Christmas.

It’s a light yet heartfelt start Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter series of four holiday books. It’s filled with all of the family drama that can be characteristic of this festive season. While some of it is “heavy,” Hilderbrand makes it feel festive and escapist.

Printable PDF List of Elin Hilderbrand’s Books

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About Author Elin Hilderbrand: Queen of the Beach Reads

about

A Pennsylvania native, Elin Hilderbrand, is a Nantucket-based American author known for her bestselling beach read novels, novellas, and short stories. Her captivating novels blend romance, high-class drama, and picturesque Nantucket settings.

She graduated from Johns Hopkins University and pursued her graduate studies at the famed University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop.

She debuted with The Beach Club in 2000 and has since published over 25 novels, amidst personal challenges, including a battle with breast cancer.

In 2021, she announced plans to retire in 2024. Swan Song will be her final novel. However, she signed a deal to co-write two books with her daughter, Shelby Cunningham, to be published in 2024 and 2025.

Learn More: Elin Hilderbrand’s website

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered Elin Hilderbrand’s best book?

According to GoodReads readers, Elin Hilderbrand’s most popular book is The Hotel Nantucket. It juxtaposes high-class people with working-class people in an aspirational setting and offers a light mystery as well.

What to read if you love Elin Hilderbrand?

Try these authors like Elin Hilderbrand: Nantucket authors, Nancy Thayer and Pamela Kelley, also write beach reads set on Nantucket. Hilderbrand’s author friend, Dorothea Benton Frank, also writes similar books set in the South.

What genre is Elin Hilderbrand?

Elin Hilderbrand is known as the “Queen of the Beach Read.” Her captivating novels blend romance, high-class drama, and picturesque Nantucket settings, making her books staples for summer reading lists.

Conclusion

This list of the best Elin Hilderbrand books guided you through the “must read” titles from the “queen of the beach reads,” so you can devour all her most popular books first.

SHOP THE POST

To recap and help you decide what to read first or next, my top 3 best books by Elin Hilderbrand, ranked in order, are:

  1. Summer of ’69: light historical fiction drama set during a momentous summer on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard
  2. 28 Summers: a tear-jerker with a wealth of pop culture references
  3. The Perfect Couple: the ultimate “death at a wedding” in Nantucket mystery.

Share your favorite Elin Hilderbrand book in the comments below.

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12 Comments

  1. The Rumor seems to be included in the winter series??? I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read it first. My question is there another book that I should read that is part of the winter series??

    1. I’m not 100% sure about this. I don’t recall there being a major connection. Sometimes Elin uses the same characters throughout several novels (like the police chief) but I’m not aware of any books being part of the Winter series other than the Winter series itself.

  2. Is there going to be another book following Troubles in Paradise ? I keep wondering what happened to everyone especially Irene and Huck.
    Thanks

  3. Hello! Lovely blog! Who doesn’t love a good, beachy book by Elin Hilderbrand?!
    I just finished Golden Girl, I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. Right before I read Golden Girl I read Summer of ‘69 and 28 Summers, and those two books were the ones that created my obsession with Elin Hilderbrand novels. 28 Summers is, so far, my all time favorite book by Elin, Summer of ‘69 is my second favorite and picking a third favorite is hard because I read some of her other books years ago, but I do LOVE the Winter Street Series! In fact, the Winter Street Series were the first books I had read by Elin and I liked the first book of the series so much that when I realized it was a series, I immediately found the other 3 books and devoured them!
    I am currently listening to Summerland and I’ve restarted it multiple times, I just can’t seem to get into it, so I think I’m going to put it on my DNF (for now) pile and start a new EL book; my instincts are telling me to go with your #3 favorite EL read, The Perfect Couple! Reading your review I realized The Perfect Couple is a murder mystery book but still on Nantucket! Does a book get any better than “mystery murder on Nantucket” or “beach murder mystery?” I don’t think so! I hope there’s some typical “breakin’ up to be makin’ up” in there or some sparks flying between between the wrong people!
    Speaking of, for the critics and trolls who do not approve of the “adultery” and “sexual scenes” then DON’t read it! No one is forcing you! The books are FICTIONAL, meaning, it’s not real or true, those things didn’t happen and the characters don’t exist! I don’t understand people who read an entire series of books only to go behind their computer/iPad/phone, etc., just to author/actress/actor/politician/influencer (whomever) put these people down! It’s cowardly and mean.
    On that note, I enjoy your blog and your reviews! I get to read them in between helping my youngest on the potty and helping my daughter with homework. Haha. Thank you and take care! I’ll check back in when I need to pick a new read! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I DEFINITELY recommend Perfect Couple! I recommend it to so many people, and it seems you and I have similar tastes. Blue Bistro is also a really well-liked, unique book, as is Silver Girl.

  4. Reading Golden Girl now! I have read every book. I have had the pleasure of meeting Elin at the Moravian Bookstore in Bethlehem Pa. I was a nervous wreck and she was so nice. Can’t get enough. Please write more. Love her.

  5. Hi Jules!
    I just finished my first Elin book .. actually I read the winter series over the last two months! What an outstanding series ! I’m hooked on Hilderbrand!! Thanks to your wonderful blog and information , I will be heading to my local library to check out the Perfect Couple ! Winter series helped me to experience the joy of the holiday season !!!.. I have to agree with you .. I believe I may only be able to read Hilderbrand novels! Lol !!

      1. Thanks for sharing! My faves are Hotel Nantucket, The Rumor and Blue Bistro. I do better when there aren’t so many characters involved, love all the books!