Summer of ’69

Summer of '69 coverSummer of ’69
Elin Hilderbrand
Little, Brown and Company (June 18, 2019)
433 pages
Kindle edition $14.99, Amazon hardcover $21.21

This novel has an interesting structure. The matriarch of the family in the story, Exalta, has a daughter named Kate. Kate has three daughters: Blair, Kirby, and Jamie. Each chapter is told in the third person, but in a rotating manner from the perspective of Kate and each of her daughters. With the exception of a short prologue and epilogue, the entire novel takes place in the summer of 1969, although there are many references to past events. The action is focused in and around Exalta’s summer home in Nantucket and on Martha’s Vineyard where Kirby has a summer job. There is, by the way, no scene in the book that remotely resembles the cover illustration.

Hilderbrand effectively interweaves a fictional family saga with actual events of that summer, including the war in Vietnam, the moon landing, and the Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick incident. Kate’s son Tiger was drafted and is serving in Vietnam, Blair’s husband is a scientist who is at Mission Control in Houston for the moon landing, and Ted Kennedy is a guest at the boutique hotel on Martha’s Vineyard where Kirby works.

The novel maintains momentum throughout; it rarely if ever lags. Hilderbrand reveals some interesting twists near the end and ties things together relatively well. Summer of ‘69 is good summer escape reading even in December.

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