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Nantucket Nights
Cover of Nantucket Nights
Nantucket Nights
A Novel
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The ties between women can run as deep as the ocean—but so can the secrets.

For 20 years, Kayla, Antoinette and Val have performed their own special summer ritual. Once a year, the old friends put aside their daily, separate lives to drink champagne, swap stories and swim naked under the Nantucket stars. But on one of those bonding nights, one of their trio swims out from the shore and doesn't return. After the surviving friends emerge from their grief, they realize that the repercussions of their loss go far beyond their little circle, and they begin to uncover layers of secrets—and their connections to each other—that were never revealed on the beach. What has made their friendship strong now has the power to destroy—their marriages, families, even themselves, in Elin Hilderbrand's Nantucket Nights.

The ties between women can run as deep as the ocean—but so can the secrets.

For 20 years, Kayla, Antoinette and Val have performed their own special summer ritual. Once a year, the old friends put aside their daily, separate lives to drink champagne, swap stories and swim naked under the Nantucket stars. But on one of those bonding nights, one of their trio swims out from the shore and doesn't return. After the surviving friends emerge from their grief, they realize that the repercussions of their loss go far beyond their little circle, and they begin to uncover layers of secrets—and their connections to each other—that were never revealed on the beach. What has made their friendship strong now has the power to destroy—their marriages, families, even themselves, in Elin Hilderbrand's Nantucket Nights.

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  • Copyright © 2002 by Elin Hilderbrand.

    Kayla

    It is December on Nantucket Island—a month of white skies and the first truly cold winds of the winter, a month made bearable by Christmas cheer. When Kayla stands next to the big Douglas fir in front of Pacific National Bank, she gazes down Main Street at the rows of trees with their fat colored lights, the snow flurries dusting the cobblestones, and the people she has lived amongst for twenty years, who are hurrying into the warm shops.

    Kayla has shopping to do as well. At The Complete Kitchen, she buys an ice cream scoop for Luke's teacher, and the woman behind the register offers her an hors d'oeuvre from a silver platter: smoked salmon on rye bread topped with caviar that looks like black pearls. At Nantucket Sleigh Ride, they're handing out hot cider in paper cups. Kayla buys ornaments and a strand of scallop-shell lights. At Johnston's of Elgin cashmere shop, Kayla splurges on a cherry red pashmina for a party she and Raoul have been invited to on the fifteenth. The salesgirl wraps the pashmina in cream-colored tissue paper, ties it up with red ribbon, and then slips it into a fancy shopping bag with silk cord handles. Walking back to her car, Kayla marvels at how, on the outside, everything in her life appears to be back to normal. And on a day like today, better than normal.

    Antoinette has been missing for three months.

    As Kayla walks into her house, the phone rings. She still can't bring herself to answer the phone because she's afraid.

    "Afraid of what?" Raoul asked her once.

    Afraid of this very thing: She waits for the machine to pick up, and then she hears a voice.

    "Kayla," the voice says. "This is Paul Henry. I have news. Please call me."

    Kayla deletes the message and begins pacing the house, still clutching her shopping bags. She is grateful that she's the only one home. No one else heard the message.

    I have news.

    Afraid of what?

    Afraid that everything is not back to normal. Antoinette, the woman whom Kayla once called her best friend, was swept off the coast of Great Point while swimming in the middle of the night on Labor Day weekend.

    Was Antoinette dead? Alive? There was no way to know.

    Until now.

About the Author-
  • Elin Hilderbrand is the author of The Island, Nantucket Nights, Summer People and The Blue Bistro, among others. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a teaching/writing fellow. Her short fiction has appeared in Seventeen, The Massachusetts Review, and The Colorado Review. She lives with her husband, Chip Cunningham, and their two sons in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 1, 2002
    Elin Hilderbrand's Nantucket Nights (after The Beach Club) digs into the private lives of three middle-aged women Kayla, Val and Antoinette. For 20 years, they have made annual midnight excursions to the beach to drink champagne, skinny-dip and swap confidences, until one night Antoinette disappears into the surf and doesn't return. Juicy revelations wash up like broken seashells Antoinette had a daughter 20 years ago and a second love-child was on the way and that's just the beginning. Things get more twisted at every turn, with enough lies and betrayals to fuel a whole season of soap operas. It takes a little while for things to get going, but once they do, readers will be hooked. Regional author tour.

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    St. Martin's Press
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A Novel
Elin Hilderbrand
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