Set on idyllic Nantucket Island, The Love Season weaves together two stories – of Renata, who at nineteen is newly engaged and arrives with her fiancé on the island to announce their engagement to his wealthy parents; and of Marguerite, the godmother Renata does not know, a once-famous chef with a terrible secret. When Renata calls Marguerite and asks to meet, it sets in motion a day that goes not as planned for either of them – and changes the rest of their lives forever.
For a story that takes place in a single day and spends at least half its time exploring the past, this book has remarkable forward pull. Hilderbrand crafted her two protagonists masterfully, giving them enough quirks and foibles to fascinate, yet with enough strengths to make one believe they could overcome their own frailties to find happiness again. That said, there are a few particularly titillating plot elements that made my moral sensibilities clench, and the final chapters includes some strange jumps in point-of-view, which I found odd for a writer of this caliber. Until the end, Hilderbrand maintained a strict two-person POV. Then, without warning, she added brief snippets of others’. (In one scene, POV jumps between three characters within space of a single page, which after the focused clarity of the first two-hundred-some pages I found head-spinning. It also made me wonder a) what was Hilderbrand thinking, and b) why did her editors allow it?) All the same, it was a satisfying read, with one line toward the end making all the others worthwhile. Hilderbrand possesses a deft narrative touch, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from her.