Book Club Questions for Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

by Heather Caliendo
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Book club questions for Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand takes an in-depth look about this novel on loss and grief. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.

I really enjoyed this novel! I read the entire book on a lazy Saturday afternoon. It’s an ideal beach read that also features plenty of depth too. It’s interesting the main character Vivi sounded so similar to the author, Elin Hilderbrand. I wonder how many elements of the story rang true to her own life as well.

Characters are great—really enjoyed Vivi, especially. Her adult children are a bit of a mess but for many different reasons why. The only character I didn’t really care to follow was her ex-husband’s girlfriend, Amy. But it wasn’t such a distraction that it took away from the story.

You also can’t beat that Nantucket setting!

The Synopsis

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.

With all of Elin’s trademark beach scenes, mouth-watering meals, and picture-perfect homes, plus a heartfelt message—the people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.

Book Club Questions for Golden Girl

  1. This story features a bit of a fantasy aspect—focusing partly on Vivi’s initial journey to the Beyond. What did you think about those sections and how the ‘Beyond’ was depicted?
  2. Why was Martha chosen as her ‘Person’?
  3. Vivi is granted three nudges that change the outcomes on earth. She uses these nudges to help each of children. Did she choose wisely with how she used her nudges?
  4. If you were granted three nudges, who would you use them on?
  5. Each of the three children have plenty of problems from Willa’s miscarriages to Carson out of control partying to Leo not fully admitting who he truly is. In addition, the three siblings aren’t very close at all. How did their mother’s sudden death impact the direction of their lives?
  6. Beyond Vivi and the children, the novel also focuses on Vivi’s ex-husband JP and his girlfriend Amy. Did you feel it was necessary to follow Amy’s journey as well?
  7. Vivi is a bestseller author and her last novel is published after her death. Why did Vivi decide to write a story inspired by her high school romance?
  8. We also find out Vivi’s secret—she lied about a pregnancy so that Brett wouldn’t leave her behind. Why did Vivi lie to Brett?
  9. What are your thoughts about the budding romance between JP and Savannah?
  10. Leo is gay and it turns out he was in love with his best friend Cruz all along. Let’s discuss Leo embracing his sexuality.
  11. While many people believed that Cruz hit Vivi as he was the one to find her, we eventually learn that it was actually Leo’s girlfriend Marissa that hit Vivi and fled the scene. What did you think about this reveal?
  12. What happens next for all three children?
  13. Vivi is very similar to the author, Elin Hilderbrand. Why do you think the author decide to write a story that featured a character like her?
  14. This novel covers fate and how things are pre-determined (with maybe some nudges along the way). Do you believe in fate?
  15. How does Golden Girl compare to Elin’s other novels?

Additional Recommendations

Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Golden Girl! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Another great story about family is Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. One of my favorites of the year so far.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.


The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

If you’re looking for another about secrets, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave is a great pick!

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.

Happy reading!

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