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Summer Love Stories from Nantucket Island

Writer Elin Hilderbrand discusses her work, her love for the Island, and how she made her dreams come true

Writer Elin Hilderbrand

Photo by Kelly Cronin Bicknell

There are few places in the country that conjure images of sun, sand and summertime more than the island of Nantucket. And it’s on this charming, timeless playground where novelist Elin Hilderbrand makes her home.

Hilderbrand, 46, is the author of a number of wildly popular romance novels that make for great beach reads. Each of her 15 novels, including Barefoot, Summerland and The Guest Cottage, is set on and around Nantucket, whether at Nantucket Memorial Airport or the swanky Nantucket Beach Club and Hotel. She has been called “the queen of the summer beach read” and earlier this year she released her latest book, The Rumor. In July, the title reached #3 on The New York Times Best Seller list and has remained in the top 15 ever since.
In a recent interview with Cape Cod LIFE magazine, Hilderbrand talked about her work, her love of Nantucket, and how she—having grown up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, a suburban community to the north of Philadelphia—came to be living and setting all of her novels on Nantucket Island. She also talked about her 2014 diagnosis with breast cancer, and how today, she’s cancer-free.

Raised in Pennsylvania, Hilderbrand traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket. “It was love at first sight,” she says of the island. “I’ve traveled a lot, and I just knew it. When I saw Nantucket from the boat—the church steeples, the houses, the beaches—I thought of the line from John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High”, ‘. . . coming home to a place [I’d] never been before’.”

“I just loved all of it,” she adds. “The downtown, the cobblestones, the fact that there are no chain stores and the shops are independently owned. Year-rounders want to keep it that way. And there’s 50 miles of undeveloped beach.”
As a child, Hilderbrand was fortunate enough to spend carefree summers at the beach on Cape Cod with her family. Her father, Robert, and her stepmother, Judy, rented a large cottage in Brewster when Elin was 10 for their blended family of five children. The cottage had a screened-in porch, an outdoor shower, and a patio in the backyard with a large picnic table and benches. Most days were spent outdoors. For six glorious years, the Hilderbrand clan enjoyed summers full of fun and sunshine.

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