28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand – An Interesting Twist on a Timeless Classic

This is the first Elin Hilderbrand novel I’ve read, even though it’s her 25th. 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand is set in Nantucket, and the author did a wonderful job of making the reader feel like they were actually there. It was a pleasant diversion to think about how much I long to be on the beach at the moment.

At 433 pages, I found the book to be somewhat lengthy. It featured a lot of plots, some of which I felt should have been cut down.

Synopsis of 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

In 28 Summers, Link Blessing doesn’t know what to anticipate when his dying mother gives him a phone number she wrote down on a slip of paper and left in her desk drawer. But he has no hope that Jake McCloud will respond. Late in the spring of 2020, Jake’s wife Ursula DeGournsey has emerged as a leading candidate for the presidency.

Link is sure that he is misreading the situation. How did Mallory and Jake meet?

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Think back to the wonderful summer of 1993. Mallory has just received her aunt’s beach property in Nantucket, and she offers to host her brother’s bachelor party there.

Cooper’s college friend Jake McCloud shows up, and he and Mallory create a friendship that will last through their marriage, their children, and Ursula’s meteoric ascent to power, all the way up until Mallory finds she is dying.

Review of 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

Inspired by the timeless classic Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers delves into the heartbreak and elation of a yearly weekend fling and the dramatic ways in which it alters their lives and the lives of those closest to them.

Admittedly, I find it difficult to root for characters in stories involving an affair. When Emily Giffin first started writing, it seemed like every book was about an affair, and they all felt a little disgusting, but especially Something Borrowed.

I think Elin did a better job with it than those other novels, but I wasn’t entirely on board with it. The question of why Mallory and Jake don’t get together was nagging at me. They had a window of opportunity, particularly at the outset.

The thought kept repeating itself, and I didn’t buy any of the rationalizations (Jake has been with Ursula for a very long time; Mallory will never leave Nantucket).

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Mallory is competent generally, but she makes some cringeworthy choices at times. Jake has his flaws, but he’s a great guy overall. Having a successful wife and a side piece waiting for him in Nantucket, Jake seemed to have the world at his feet.

Wow, Mallory’s dating prospects are hopeless because of this friendship. The summers felt repetitious and not in a cute way, and I simply expected more from their relationship for this to make sense.

Perhaps they were just intended to have a yearly fling and then part ways. Perhaps if they had stayed together for longer, the novelty would have worn off. Since they never attempted it, we will never know.

Elin’s writing is enjoyable to me. I felt like there were just too many plot threads going on here. You have the primary affair plot, which can be secondary to other characters. We follow Ursula’s professional rise and fall; I found her character uninteresting.

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Why Ursula and Jake are together is beyond me. The writer makes a shaky connection between the two, but I don’t buy it. The politics didn’t concern me, but there were definitely moments when things seemed to happen at random.

Cooper, Mallory’s brother, also has a rocky romantic life that we chronicle. To be honest, I didn’t give a hoot about Cooper. Then there are the complicated dynamics between Mallory’s parents and her peculiar closest friend.

The time span of the novel 28 Summers is of nearly thirty years, which is evident by its name, is quite impressive, but I found that my interest waned whenever it veered from the central plot.

The setting is the highlight of 28 Summers, yet the novel has several problems. The setting of this narrative is picture perfect, however, so if that’s what you’re after, you’ll enjoy it.

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