Title: Silver Girl
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: general fiction
Pages: 340 (Nook NetGalley uncorrected ARC)
Published: June 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Source: publishers via NetGalley
While I've read
more than my fair share of Elin Hilderbrand's breezy, easy summer novels (Barefoot, The Castaways, A Summer Affair, The Island, Summer People, Nantucket Nights) this was by far the most emotional and affecting yet. Usually, along with Jennifer Crusie, Hilderbrand is my go-to gal for a light, beachy, often romantic read I can finish in a couple hours. This novel was a slight change in tone from the previous novels I'd read, because those books too dealt with heavy, tough issues, this seems like a much more personal novel, especially when Meredith reflects on her relationship with her late father.
The book beginning finds Meredith, the titular "silver girl" of the book, grieving for the life she believed she had. Her "economic whiz" of a husband Freddy had "commited financial genocide" with a Ponzi scheme of $50billion, cheating thousands (including most of their friends) of their hard-earned cash. Knowing nothing of his heinous crime but disbelieved and blamed by all of America, Meredith can only turn to a friend she'd spurned years earlier because of Freddy. This friend, Constance Flute, is the other main POV character of the novel. The story is told in third person omniscient, switiching between the thoughts and experiences of each woman in real-time. Because Meredith needs to prove her innocence to the FBI, she is forced to recollect and rehash her memories and life with Freddy, and thus her life-long friend Connie. Under the guise of these flashbacks, more about Freddy's cold calculation and control of Meredith emerge, as does Meredith's independence and spirit as she realizes the decades of manipulation she's unknowingly endured. These flashbacks can be poignant and sad, as is the case with the utter devastation of Meredith at her father's untimely death, or chilling in the subtle way Freddy maneuvers and lies around everyone he knew.
Present-day Connie was a good friend, and a symapthetic character. Both women are dealing with loss, either of love, or life. They both, at certain times in the novel, attempt to hide (literally: Meredith wears sunglasses and a hat, Connie tries a makeover) or cover up their pain before they decide to deal with it. Particularly around the secondary characters (the later love-interests as I thought of them) Meredith and Connie would revert to high school attitudes and tactics. In a rather sad, death-afflicted novel these humorous vignettes did wonders for lifting the somber tone. The burgeoning romance between Connie and the handsome, reserved Dan was a nicely understated subplot in the larger scale of Meredith emotional ruin and desolation.
I enjoyed this novel. I won't say it was one of my favorite novels of the year, or even of the month, but it had more depth and feeling than I would have ever assumed a typically beach-read author would write. The ending, while not wholly tying up all loose ends or stories, left a window of opportunity and sweetness that I think fits the story better than a 'happily ever after' would have. My final vote? Borrow from the library on a day perfect for solitary suntanning.