Review and Giveaway: A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

17 Jul

A Summer AffairWhen I finished reading this book, I found myself having a book club discussion about it in my own head. I really wished I had someone to talk about it with. This is a sign of a good book club book.

I received this book via a Book Club Member & Book Bloggers Group, so book clubs were on my mind while reading it.  Even without that, I think the connection would have come to me.

From the Hachette Book Group Web Site:

Claire Danner Crispin, mother of four young children and nationally renowned glassblower, bites off more than she can chew when she agrees to co-chair the Nantucket’s Children Summer Gala.

Claire is asked to chair the benefit, in part, because she is the former high school sweetheart of rock star Max West. Max agrees to play the gala and it looks like smooth sailing for Claire-until she promises a “museum-quality” piece of glass for the auction, offers her best friend the catering job, goes nose-to-nose with her Manhattan socialite co-chair, and begins a “good-hearted” affair with the charity’s Executive Director, Lockhart Dixon.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a troublesome book for me to rate. For me, it was a clear 4 stars as a book club book, but much closer to 3 stars as a straight read.

My big question for myself: If the main character’s adultery hadn’t made me so uncomfortable, how would I have rated the book? Other than this one decision (granted, the main subject of the book), I liked Claire, and was interested in the challenges in her life– as a mother, as a wife, as an artist. I identified with her desire to say “yes” when anyone asked something of her, and her putting away of her professional identity and replacing it with one of straight motherhood. Even though that role fits me much better than it did her, I envy her knowledge of what she truly wanted to be doing.

Claire’s best friend was probably my favorite character of the book. I didn’t agree with all of her decisions, either, but I understood where they came from. I loved going through her conflicted feelings. She wanted to know what was going on with her best friend’s life. When her suspicions were confirmed, she realized she really didn’t want to know, and had to figure out where to go next.

I found Claire’s husband and her lover to be almost non-entities to me. I couldn’t bring myself to care at all about either of them. I think this might be because the book (even the affair) was never about either of them. It was about Claire and her need to break out of her roles.

In the end, if I treat the adultery as a metaphor for recasting the rules for Claire’s life, I’d say overall, I liked the book.

For another take on A Summer Affair, check out Booking Mama’s review.

Giveaway information

Thanks to Hachette Books, I’m giving away five copies of A Summer Affair!  Find out if you think it will work for your book club, or just enjoy reading it yourself.


  1. Leave a comment to enter. Be sure your e-mail address is valid, so I can notify you if you win.
  2. For another entry, let me know if you subscribe to my blog via RSS or e-mail, or if you follow me on Twitter. Thank you to my current subscribers, Welcome if you are new to my blog. (Including this in the same comment is fine)
  3. One more entry if you let other people know about this giveaway! On your blog, on Twitter, another social site.  Just let me know in a comment.
  4. As a bonus (for an additional entry) tell me what makes a good book club pick.

Having an address (not a PO Box) in the US or Canada is necessary. I’ll pick the winners on July 31.

And if your are thinking about discussing this book, or just want more to think about, here are some discussion questions from the Hachette Books Web Site:

1. Discuss the character of Claire Danner Crispin. What ultimately leads her to have an affair?

2. How does the author juxtapose Claire’s relationship as a young girl with Matthew “Max West” Westfield with her current relationship with Lock Dixon? How are the two loves connected, if at all?

3. Discuss the role of friendship in the novel. Which character proves to be the greatest friend by the summer’s end? Does the way Claire values friendship change as a result of the gala?

4. There are several working mothers in A Summer Affair, including Claire and her sister-in-law, Siobhan. Discuss the ways in which the pressures of being a working mother are portrayed in the novel. Does the book’s depiction of working mothers seem accurate and realistic to you?

5. A Summer Affair is told from multiple points of view. Who, aside from Claire, impressed you as the most compelling character? Did you find that your favorite character changed in the
course of the novel?

6. Discuss the role of glassblowing in Claire’s life and its importance to her identity. How does resuming her former passion affect Claire’s life as a wife and mother?

7. How does the island of Nantucket act as a character in A Summer Affair? Discuss the tension between the island’s summer residents and those who live there year-round.

8. What do you think the future holds for Claire, Siobhan, Lock, and Max? How do you think Claire will come to view the affair, and the gala, in the years to come?

Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy of this book!


Posted by on July 17, 2009 in Book Club, books, giveaway, reviews


Tags: , , ,

63 responses to “Review and Giveaway: A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

  1. Nicole

    July 17, 2009 at 6:42 am

    I read The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand and loved it so much. I’m looking forward to reading by her. It looks like she knows how to weave together some awesome family dramas that make you think.

  2. elizabeth

    July 17, 2009 at 7:20 am

    LOoks like a really interesting book. count me in please

  3. Trish

    July 17, 2009 at 10:12 am

    This looks like a great book – I would love to read it!

  4. debbie

    July 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Adultery is sometimes a deal breaker for me too. Having said that, I liked her other books so I’d like to give this one a try!

  5. debbie

    July 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    As for what I think makes a good book club pick, I think a little controversy in whether people liked the book or not helps the discussion along! If everyone is friendly about it, it can really help you to dig deeper into your thoughts on the book.

  6. Tasha

    July 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Looks really good! Count me in. I also subscribe to your blog via RSS.

    Thanks so much 🙂

  7. Sharon Spivack

    July 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Sure…why not? It’s summer and I have extra time to read!

  8. Susan Helene Gottfried

    July 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    No need to enter me, my friend. I’m dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I’ve got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  9. Tina

    July 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Looks like a good read. I’ve posted it on my blog, and have been following you for quite a while. Thanks for the contest.

  10. Carey

    July 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I would love to read this one, I really enjoyed The Castaways by the same author.

    I think a book club choice has to have some controversial topics or the author has to make some controversial choices. I recently read a book that I really liked until the end, which I really hated. That one would have been great to have read for a book club, maybe others would have a different point of view to help me understand why the author chose that ending.

  11. Pam R.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I think I would enjoy this as a read on my own.

    I subscribe via google reader.

    I think a good book club book is one that generates some discussion. Often it will involve controversy but not always. Sometimes the writing style will provoke great discussion at my bookclub. Many of our best choices have some underlying themes that make us think differently. Some of our good discussions as well result from books that take place in a specific locale or time-period that one or another of our members can relate to and thus provide us with additional insight into why certain things may have happened in the book as they did.

  12. Kim V

    July 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I really want to read this, please enter me. Thanks!

  13. Kim V

    July 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Email subscriber

  14. Kim V

    July 17, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Blogged about giveaway here

  15. Kim V

    July 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I think a book becomes a good book club pick if its not too difficult to read, nor too long (over 350 pages) and leaves the reader wanting to talk about the characters/plot.

  16. amandasue

    July 17, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I’d love a chance to read this thanks!

  17. Ruth

    July 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Looks like a good book. Would love to be in your contest!

  18. Ruth

    July 17, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    What makes a good book club pick? Short enough that the majority of the group actually makes time to finish it. Deep enough that there’s something to talk about. Fluffy enough that it’s not too “hard” to read.

    Best yet? Something that has a movie version for an extra Mom’s Night Out 🙂

  19. kay

    July 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I’d love to give this a try! I discovered this book while looking for covers for my artsy shelf feature, and it’s been on my TBR list since! 🙂

    And I already follow you via RSS! 🙂

    infiniteshelf at gmail dot com

  20. nanscorner

    July 18, 2009 at 3:58 am

    I’d love to be entered for the giveaway. I’m also a subscriber through google reader.

    A good book club pick? I like a book that has the reader questioning something. Questioning a character’s thoughts, motives; or questioning a part of the plot, ending. Or if the story stays with you, it usually makes for a good book club read. Many times after finishing a book, it will keep rolling around in my head. I wish I was part of a book club so I could discuss it with others.


  21. cenyasmom

    July 18, 2009 at 4:41 am

    I would like to win this book, I read the review and thought
    it would be a good read, I am a subscriber.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  22. Teresa W

    July 18, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Sounds good, I’d like to be included!

  23. Dixie

    July 18, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I’d love an entry.

  24. Dixie

    July 18, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I follow you on twitter as southrngrl.

  25. Jenny N.

    July 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    This looks like a good book. I would love to enter this giveaway

  26. Belle

    July 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    This sounds like a good read. I enjoyed your review – your line “It was about Claire and her need to break out of her roles” really makes me want to read it!

  27. Sue

    July 20, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I’d like to read this. Thanks for sharing~

    smickelson1993 at yahoo dot com

  28. maria jose

    July 20, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Sounds like a good book (:

  29. Mozi Esmes Mommy

    July 21, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Would love to read this! Your book review sounds like something I would come up with!

  30. Shonda

    July 21, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Please enter me as well. This book seems like it would be a great summer read.

    For me a good book club selection is a book that’s very thought-provoking, doesn’t end with the “little red bow” wrapped up nicely, the characters are real, somewhat flawed, but likable. The plot flows and isn’t predictable.

  31. elaing8

    July 21, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    please enter me in the giveaway

  32. jacque

    July 22, 2009 at 5:46 am

    I have heard of this book and would love to read it! Thanks!

  33. jacque

    July 22, 2009 at 5:47 am

    I subscribe by email.

  34. jacque

    July 22, 2009 at 5:52 am

    A good book club read is one where someone can identify with one of the characters. And not too many characters in the book or you can get lost remembering everyone.

  35. Beth

    July 22, 2009 at 11:52 am

    This looks interesting! Please enter me!

    BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

  36. Dina

    July 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I would like to read it!

  37. Dina

    July 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Follow you on twitter (aitmama). I think a good book club read would be one that invites discussion, even if – and especially – not everyone shares the same opinion.

  38. Deanna Stillings

    July 24, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Interesting review. I would like to read this one for myself.
    Thanks, Gram

  39. Kelly B

    July 25, 2009 at 12:17 am

    I have not read any of Elin’s novels, but I would love an opportunity. Please enter me in your giveaway.



  40. Kelly B

    July 25, 2009 at 12:27 am

    I subscribe to your blog via email. Thanks again for the chance!


  41. Raelena

    July 25, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    count me in please!
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  42. Kelly B

    July 26, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I blogged about your giveaway:


  43. Cathy

    July 26, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I enjoy reading Elin’s books. Please enter me in the contest for this book.


  44. Beth

    July 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I’d like this book very much – thanks!

  45. Victoria

    July 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I’d love to read this! Thank you!


  46. Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)

    July 29, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Hello! I’m new to your blog and SO glad I found it! I’d LOVE to have this book and thank you for hosting this giveaway along with Hachette. I subscribe by mail!

    I hope you’ll come by my blog before FRIDAY! I have a fabulous giveaway and I want you to be part of my followers!

    What makes a great book club pick? Something everyone has been waiting to read, or is really waiting to discuss. We take turns picking ours and it’s from a list we all agree on.

    I know it’s not much of an answer, but it works for us!

    xoxo Amy (PAP)


  47. Jennifer

    July 29, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I’m interested! : )

  48. Anita Yancey

    July 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    This book looks very interesting. Please enter me. Thanks!


  49. Anita Yancey

    July 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I am an email subscriber!


  50. Anita Yancey

    July 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    This book sounds very interesting. Please enter me. Thanks!


  51. Marion Greenwood

    July 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Hi I’m interested in reading this book. Count me in. MarionG
    polo-puppy-fluffy at hotmail dot com

  52. Marion Greenwood

    July 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I’ve found that if a book club discusses what genres of books they would like to read ahead of time and if they have similar values, or at least discuss this aspect ahead of time, they will have more success at choosing books that appeal to all members. Hope this is helpful. MarionG polo-puppy-fluffy at hotmail dot com

  53. katiepea

    July 29, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I would love to be entered into this giveaway.


  54. Wanda

    July 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    A Summer Affair looks intriguing. Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks.

  55. SUMMER

    July 31, 2009 at 6:06 am

    I would love to be entered please.


  56. Cheli

    July 31, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I’d love a chance to read this thanks!

  57. Shawna Lewis

    July 31, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    OH My Goodness, thanks so much for this chance to win :o)

    Shawna Lewis

  58. Pamela S

    July 31, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve heard great things about this author but never read anything. I’d love to be entered to win. Thanks so much!

  59. Pamela S

    July 31, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I have had to lead book discussions before and I always think that a book with ethical ambiguity makes for good discussion. I think an example would be Jodi Picoult books. There’s usually not a clear ‘good” person and “bad” person, but several good people who make choices we might or might not make.


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