Editorial note: I received a copy of The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand is an entertaining story about long-lasting friendships.
Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of beach novels with summer vibes. Most of her stories are set in Nantucket and the setting is always a stand-out—you truly feel you’re transported to the town. I only recently started reading her novels and I do like them overall. They’re the ideal stories to read on a plane or to take with you on vacation.
The stories do carry quite a bit of substance—so it’s not just a light, fluffy read. But things usually wrap up fairly nicely in the end so it’s never takes a too dramatic tone. It’s the right amount of drama, mixed in with comedy with again, an all-star setting.
I have to say, I think my favorite of hers is actually The Five-Star Weekend. I loved the concept and I think there are some interesting dynamics as well. After all, a lot of women can relate to friendships evolving as we all get older.
What’s the Story About
Hollis Shaw’s life seems picture-perfect. She’s the creator of the popular food blog Hungry with Hollis and is married to Matthew, a heart surgeon. But after she and Matthew get into a heated argument one snowy morning, he leaves for the airport and is killed in a car accident. The cracks in Hollis’s perfect life—her strained marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter, Caroline—grow deeper.
Several months after Matthew’s death, Hollis is in a cloud of grief and tragedy. However, she stumbles upon an interesting idea: a “Five-Star Weekend.” This is where one woman organizes a trip for her best friend from each phase of her life: her teenage years, her twenties, her thirties, and midlife—she decides to host her own Five-Star Weekend on Nantucket.
However, the weekend doesn’t turn out to be a joyful Hallmark movie.
Hollis is an engaging and interesting character. Her mother died when she was very young and she was raised by her father on Nantucket—but a very different Nantucket than she experiences as an adult. The community really wrapped their arms around her family after her mother passed, and her best friend Tatum is like a sister.
But when you’re from a smaller community, it can feel like you’re boxed in. And Hollis really strived to grow and become her own person. So she went to college and kind of reinvented herself in many ways. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to.
When she meets Matthew in Boston, she eventually becomes a housewife and mother and everything is great for a time being. The family returns to Nantucket every summer and she becomes a summer-person. But Tatum feels that Hollis lost touch with her who she was and the two drift apart.
Until, Hollis decides to do the Five-Star Weekend.
It’s funny when I describing this story to my husband, I called it a bachelorette party idea for 50-year-olds. But I kept thinking how bachelorette parties do bring people from all eras of your life together. But once you’re past that time period in your life, there’s not much of an opportunity to have a big girls’ weekend filled with people from various eras.
So the Five-Star Weekend idea is very compelling! It had me thinking about who I would invite. I love the concept and it might be something to do one day for sure.
I liked reading about Hollis’ different friendships and how each one help to shape who she is. For instance, Tatum is the childhood friend but it was hard for her to see Hollis move on from Nantucket. Dru-Ann is the college friend and so the two grew together that way. Brooke is her mom friend and two navigated motherhood together. And she decides to invite Gigi, who is a stranger that Hollis has only interacted with through her blog.
Each of these women represent a certain time period for Hollis. But I also feel it kind of shows our friends only can know so much from us—especially when you don’t live right by someone. For instance, none of them knew that Hollis and Matthew had problems before he died.
But this Five-Star Weekend allows Hollis to reconnect with these meaningful relationships in her life.
Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and learning about Hollis’ friendships. We read the perspectives from all the women, including her daughter, and I liked that multi-narrative approach.
I do have a couple criticisms. I felt it dragged bit and was somewhat repetitive in the middle. I also did not love the side storyline of Hollis reconnecting with her high school boyfriend, I just wasn’t engaged with that. Personally, I think it would have been stronger for her not to have a love interest at all in the novel.
But again, I enjoyed it overall. You kind know what you’re getting with these kind of stories and I thought it more than delivered.
For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.