Thursday 26 August 2021

Book ~ "Golden Girl" (2021) Elin Hilderbrand

From Goodreads ~ On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she's assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes - with or without a nudge of help from above - while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

Vivian is a 50ish novelist who lives in Nantucket.  Her oldest daughter, Willa, is married to her childhood sweetheart and is pregnant for the third time (she miscarried the first two times).  Vivian's daughter, Carson, works at a bar and still lives with her.  She is into partying and drugs and takes advantage of her mother.  Her son, Leo, is the youngest, has just finished high school and is heading off to university at the end of the summer.  Vivian's ex-husband, JP, left her about ten years ago for a younger woman.  Despite coming from a wealthy family and being the cheater, he got to keep the family house and Vivian has to pay him alimony and child support.

One morning Vivian is jogging and gets hit by a car and dies instantly.  Leo's best friend, Cruz, is the one who finds her by the side of the road and calls 911.  Vivian is sent to Beyond, which is the first step I guess before she goes to Heaven.  She is allowed to watch her family and friends for the rest of the summer and is given three nudges, which she can use to change how things were supposed to happen to her family and friends.

Vivian's latest book has just been released.  Throughout the years she has used pieces of her life and Nantucket in her books but this one is closer to the truth ... it's based on her last year in high school when she met bad boy musician Brett and they fell in love and made plans for the future.

I wasn't crazy about this story.  It's not light reading as it includes racism, drug and alcohol abuse, cheating on spouses, etc.  It was more about Vivian's family and friends than her.  I was okay with the writing style though I thought it could have been tighter (there were odd asides in brackets and the constant references to a picture that was emailed around got annoying).  It is written in third person perspective with the focus on the different characters, even Nantucket, depending on where the focus was.

The chief of police investigates and speaks with Vivian's family and friends.  It was obvious to me right away who ran into Vivian by their actions.  I didn't find the characters overly likeable.  Even Vivian wasn't all that likeable ... she was more concerned about how her latest book was doing (hoping for it to be #1 right away) than the mess her family was making of their lives.  I found it weird that she didn't seem bothered that she was dead and her family and friends would have to carry on without her (unrealistically they all seemed to have a happy ending).  And I found it odd that she had been madly in love with her high school boyfriend at that time but then suddenly her feelings died and she moved on.

No comments: