On a dreary, chilly, and drippy day this week, I snuggled in with Bitzie and Elin Hilderbrand‘s latest beach book, 28 Summers. It is dedicated to the late, great Dorothea Benton Frank and gives a feminist twist to a “Same Time Next Year” affair on Nantucket Island where she lives and pens her novels.
Ms. Hilderbrand was quite prescient on the “ambition” issue in presidential politics. Nobody challenges an ambitious man who puts his career first. Society expects he’ll have a supportive spouse who will sublimate her dreams in order to invest her energy and brilliance in his career success. Nobody calls them “nasty.”
28 Summers exposes the disparity in support straight married women and lesbians receive from their spouses and lovers. The harsh reality is that most men are blatantly not interested in supporting their wife or partner’s ambitions. I wish I had read this book when I was in my late teens and naively believed in equal opportunity.
Hallmark won’t be buying this book for a movie!
– Elin Hilderbrand, 28 Summers
In real life, Ms. Hilderbrand’s career is supported by her partner, Timothy Field. 28 Summers is about Mallory Blessing, who inherits her aunt’s cottage on Nantucket in 1993. She, like Ms. Hilderbrand, gets a job teaching creative writing on the island. On Labor Day weekend, her brother Cooper asks her to host his bachelor party.
One of the guests is Jake McCloud. His career is based in DC where he has an on-again-off-again, long-time relationship with Ursula de Gournsey. The couple have been an item since they were kids. Their relationship is more about mutual career ambitions and history than love. Jake is jealous and resentful of Ursula’s success.
The bachelor party blows up, and Jake and Mallory find themselves alone on the island. The electric chemistry between them is instantaneous. However, they are geographically challenged. Her life is on the island, and his life is in DC.
The lovers compromise with a Labor Day weekend affair which endures over 28 summers, Jake’s marriage to Ursula and her stellar political career, the birth of Mallory’s son Link (a souvenir from Cooper’s second wedding reception), and Cooper’s four marriages.
I enjoyed the trips down memory lane which launch each chapter, but I got the sense that the author lost interest in the affair long before the book’s ending. I’m recommending it to anyone who hopes like I did to find a man who would support my dreams as much as I supported his. I’ve discovered there are a lot of men like Jake and not many like Timothy.