Friday, May 17, 2024

Mini Reviews: The Bottom of the Beach Bag

I've been trying to read more books on my shelf this year and that applies to beach reads, too. Sometimes there's a pile of books left over from the summer or at the bottom of your beach bag, right? Well, I hope to put a dent in that pile this year starting with these two.

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: 28 Summers, Golden Girl,  
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor. And rumor has it...

...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;

...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely than necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;

...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;

...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.

As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they've worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it."

Eddie and Grace (Fast Eddie if you are an avid reader of Hilderbrand's novels) live an idyllic life on the beautiful island of Nantucket. They have a gorgeous home, thanks to Eddie's once thriving real estate business and beautiful grounds, thanks to Grace's touch as well as her landscaper, Benton. Their twin daughters, Allegra and Hope, are your typical superficial teens, but everything is going smoothly for their family. Their good friends, Madeline and Trevor, have invested in Eddie's latest real estate development and their families are as thick as thieves. Madeline is struggling to write her next novel though and is desperate for inspiration. When she finds out that Grace has started an affair, this becomes the topic of her next novel, which sends the entire island into a tailspin when someone reads an excerpt. Madeline's family is struggling financially right now and would love the money back from Eddie's real estate plans, so as you can see, things start to get sticky on the island; plus, add in some juicy gossip and readers have got themselves a major summer storm. Elin Hilderbrand's The Rumor isn't my favorite of her summer novels, but it's a pleasant way to pass an afternoon getting caught up on all the island drama.

So, here's the thing. The Rumor's characters are all pretty despicable and unlikable; however, Hilderbrand actually makes me care about them...somehow. It was similar to watching some major drama go down. You know it's going to be bad, but you have to see how it will end. Grace's affair is not smart, but it created some major flipping of the pages from me because I wanted to see how she was going to get out of this. Same with Madeline as we all know she shouldn't have used her friend's affair as the topic of her book, but she was in too deep. Hilderbrand has encouraged her readers to read The Rumor before Swan Song, which comes out this summer. I am sure many of these characters will make appearances in her next novel and I am glad I read it, but it wasn't my favorite of Hilderbrands and I  probably wouldn't have carved out the time to read it otherwise.

My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank
Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 6, 2023
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Escape to the South Carolina Lowcountry, where family bonds and hidden secrets run deep.
In this gripping tale of self-discovery, Victoria Benton Frank introduces us to Maggie, a South Carolina transplant in New York City struggling to find her place in the world. When she receives a phone call from her troubled sister, Violet, Maggie must return to her hometown of Sullivan's Island, where she uncovers shocking secrets about her family's past.

Upon her arrival, Maggie is confronted with a disarrayed situation at The Magic Lantern, the cherished restaurant owned and operated by generations of women in her family. As she rediscovers the roots she left behind, she unexpectedly finds herself drawn to a charismatic farmer. But amidst her sister's impending breakup and their beloved matriarch, Gran, lying comatose due to a car accident caused by Maggie's troubled mother, Lily, the road to true love won't be easy.

When three generations of South Carolina women—the steadfast Gran, the troubled Lily, the impulsive Violet, and the determined Maggie, come together, anything becomes possible. Immerse yourself in the stunning depictions of marsh grasses and dunes, as this novel transports you to a world brimming with cherished family traditions and unforeseen twists of fate."

Magnolia is a chef in New York City and her life isn't exactly going as planned. She isn't where she wants to be career-wise, so when she gets the dreaded call that her beloved grandmother, Rose, was in a car accident, she returns home to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. For generations, her family has owned a restaurant on the island, The Magic Lantern. Without her grandmother there to run it, it has been struggling as it fell into Magnolia's mother's hands. Magnolia's mother, Lily, is an alcoholic and her boyfriend's influence doesn't help either. To make matters worse, Magnolia's sister, Violet, is unexpectedly pregnant by her boyfriend, so this complicates things for the family even more. Magnolia didn't plan on staying at Sullivan's Island as she left a boyfriend behind in New York, but her family needs her here in more ways than one. My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank, daughter of Dorothea Benton Frank, is a light beach read, but Frank tries too hard to fill her mother's shoes in this summertime novel.

My Magnolia Summer follows the typical formula of a woman returning home to a town that she left years ago and facing family; plus, all the problems that come with it. My Magnolia Summer, at its core, is a story of sisterhood and family, but ultimately, it fell flat to me due to hokey dialogue, uneven pacing, and surface level characters. There were some tender moments between family members, but overall, it wasn't enough. I did enjoy the details surrounding The Magic Lantern and I was rooting for Magnolia to turn the restaurant around for her much-loved grandmother. Overall, I felt like My Magnolia Summer never reached its full potential, but fans of Victoria's late mother, Dorothea, may like returning to beloved Sullivan's Island.

So, have you read The Rumor or My Magnolia Summer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 


  1. I listened to the audiobook of The Rumor several years ago. I didn't care for the topic - gossip and scandalous lives just don't interested me.

    1. Yes! It was all about the scandal. I think you need to be in the right frame of mine for this one! I definitely prefer her latest novels over this one. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Some of Hilderbrand's novels are a little iffy for me, I do need to catch up on her more recent ones, though!


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