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07.30.10

6 Great Summer Beach Reads

Looking for that great summer read for August? Author Elin Hilderbrand shares her favorite summer books set in New England. Her new book, The Island, is out now.

Evening
By Susan Minot

This book is flawless. Summer wedding in Maine, evokes Bobby Darin and gin and tonics on the porch, and late-night lovemaking on top of canvas sails. It is such a gorgeous meditation on lost love... as heartbreaking as the end of summer. Finishing this book is like climbing into the old woody wagon and driving back to your real life. Please, just let me stay in this moment forever.

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I Cannot Get You Close Enough by Ellen Gilchrist. Back Bay. 391p. ()

I Cannot Get You Close Enough
By Ellen Gilchrist

Read this book for the eponymous novella... again Maine, again family, again love, again heartbreak. Ellen Gilchrist's characters are iconic. She is one of the singular voices in American fiction. I've read everything she's ever written. Once you start, it's like potato chips or M&Ms, but better for you.

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The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin. Dial Press. 369p. $10.20 ()

The Summer Guest
By Justin Cronin

The quintessential summer book. I can’t seem to stay away from Maine, summer, and lost love but Cronin’s novel has it again. This novel puts you on the screened-in porch overlooking the sparkling water through the pine trees as the sun goes down and the mosquitoes start to whine in your ear. For those who are as captivated by this book as I am, try also Cronin's Mary and O'Neil—absolutely stupendous.

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The Condition by Jennifer Haigh. Harper. 416p. $10.19 ()

The Condition
By Jennifer Haigh

Now here's one a little closer to home. Big family gathers in house on lower Cape Cod. There are husbands and wives and sisters and cousins and jealous rivalries and one unusual illness. This is an absorbing story, and Haigh is a very talented writer.

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Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett. Nan A. Talese. 320p. $17.16 ()

Union Atlantic
By Adam Haslett

Set in Finden, Massachusetts, this book is about money and the abuse of power, timely subjects, but it is also about a sense of place, land, family, and history. Adam and I went to the University of Iowa together, and I have to say, I am hyper-envious of this magnificent book. There are multiple narrators, including two dogs, one who channels Malcolm X and one who channels Cotton Mather. That Haslett—or anyone—successfully pulls this off is enough to put this book on my list!

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Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her eight previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.