cover image The Love Season

The Love Season

Elin Hilderbrand, .. St. Martin's, $24.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32230-4

Hilderbrand's fifth book is a fulfilling tale of familial self-exploration. Marguerite is a chef on Nantucket, Mass., who hasn't cooked for anyone since she sold her restaurant 14 years ago, following the death of her best friend, Candace, and her own brief stint in a psychiatric hospital. A quirky, endearingly insecure recluse, Marguerite is startled from her comfortable solitude by a late-night phone call from Renata Knox, Candace's 19-year-old daughter and Marguerite's estranged goddaughter, who is visiting the island with her wealthy fiancé. Renata's question, "Aunt Daisy?" sends Marguerite scrambling to come to terms with her past. The novel takes place over the day Marguerite spends preparing a lavish meal, for the first time in years, to welcome Renata, whose own problems include an overbearing mother-in-law-to-be and an incomplete sense of her own mother. Desperate for nurturing and guidance, Renata turns to Marguerite, who knew her mother best, and whom her father has forbidden Renata to see her entire life. The story is crafted as expertly as Marguerite's dishes, seasoned with well-measured flashbacks and convincing details of island life and the restaurant business. It's a refreshing, resonant summertime treat. (June)