Book Club

Book Club’s next read is ‘The Hotel Nantucket’ by Elin Hilderbrand

Join the live author discussion with bookseller Tim Ehrenberg on March 28, at 6 p.m.

With snow finally hitting the region, it’s only natural to start daydreaming of summer plans. Or at the very least, escaping into a beach read. Right on cue, we are turning to the queen of the beach read, local author Elin Hilderbrand, for our March pick. We’ll be reading “The Hotel Nantucket,” Hilderbrand’s 28th book, which is just out in paperback. The novel debuted as the number one fiction bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list just as twenty-two of her other books have before. We expect our pro sports teams to be great, and we expect Hilderbrand’s books to land on the bestseller lists.

While Hilderbrand grew up in Pennsylvania, she would end up on Cape Cod most summers, and moved to Nantucket full-time in 1993, so she’s been here a long time. And she’s been writing books for a long time, too. While she didn’t grow up here, she’s got a New England sensibility to her. When discussing her experience at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop she remembered not fitting in. In fact, she recounted to New England Today/Yankee Magazine last year that her first workshop teacher told her, “you will not be published.” Twenty-nine books in, that is now a laughable sentiment, but she did learn something valuable there. She told New York Magazine in 2019, “that is where I learned that you have to discipline yourself,” she recounted. “I was not the most talented person at Iowa, not by a long shot. But I could get shit done.” That is the New England ethos in a nutshell – next man up, do your job. Get. It. Done.


Many of her book’s protagonists are the same way, and “The Hotel Nantucket” is no exception. In it, protagonist Lizbet is seeking a fresh start and finds it in becoming the general manager of the titular hotel. But while the hotel has a celebrity chef and a fabulous wellness center, it also has a ghost of a former chambermaid who died in a 1922 fire haunting its halls, a staff with an equally complicated history, and a building that is not totally up to par. Not to mention the fact that the reason Lizbet needs a fresh start is because of a bad breakup, and her romantic life now is anything but steady.

“The Hotel Nantucket” earned praise from USA Today, “The TODAY Show,” the New York Post, and Kirkus Reviews, which called it a “tour de force” — high praise from the notoriously cranky reviewer. Writing for “The TODAY Show,” fellow author Brad Thor called it “one of Elin’s best books ever.” It’s a good reminder that Hilderbrand is not just an author with a loyal reader following, but those who review books as well.


Can we talk for a second about her loyal following? Often known as “Hilderbabes,” Hilderbrand has such a loyal following that she has hosted the “Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend,” which is just what it sounds like — a weekend trip to Nantucket to meet and spend time with Hilderbrand, hosted by The Nantucket Hotel (which was also the inspiration for “The Hotel Nantucket”). 

Nantucket Book Partners also has a page of what they call “ELINbrand” merchandise, with everything from water bottles to hats, to Christmas ornaments. We have it on good word that the Christmas ornaments are very popular and there’s even more in the stores than what’s on the site. When I visited Mitchell’s Book Corner a couple of years ago, I picked up a wicked cool sticker that I gave to one of my bookstore’s loyal Hilderbrand readers.

One of the reasons that Hilderbrand is a cottage industry is because of the help of Tim Ehrenberg, who is our bookseller host for this month. Ehrenberg, who also was our host when the Book Club read Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Travels With George,” runs the popular website and Instagram account Tim Talks Books, and is the marketing director for Nantucket Book Partners (which is comprised of Mitchell’s Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks). He has also been instrumental in helping Hilderbrand raise her profile. But don’t take my word for it, read what Hilderbrand wrote in the acknowledgments to “Endless Summer,” which she dedicated to Ehrenberg.


“There are two unsung heroes in my publishing life that I would like to acknowledge here. The first is the man to whom this collection is dedicated: Timothy Ehrenberg. Tim and I started working several years ago when he took over as marketing director for Nantucket Book Partners. He has, pretty much single-handedly, taken my career to its present height. With every new book of mine that’s released, Tim brainstorms inventive ways to get signed and personalized copies into the hands of both longtime and brand-new readers. Could people buy the book from a big-box store or the biggest retailer in the world? Sure. But Tim has created an elevated book-buying experience in what is the backbone of our civilization: the independent bookstore,” the author wrote. “We have some belly laughs; occasionally, we drink wine; and always, always, we talk about what we’re reading…I call Tim my ‘work husband’ because we spend so much time together. He’s the secret to my success, and above and beyond that, he’s my treasured friend.”

If that doesn’t speak for itself, then nothing does!

Join Elin and Tim on Tuesday, March 28, at 6 p.m., as they discuss Elin’s marvelous new novel!

Buy “The Hotel Nantucket” from: Bookshop | Nantucket Book Partners (get an autographed hardcover here)

Prior Book Club picks: