Synopses & Reviews
Its a hot August Saturday on Nantucket Island. Over the course of the next 24 hours, two lives will be transformed forever.
Marguerite Beale, former chef of culinary hot spot Les Parapluies, has been out of the public eye for over a decade. This all changes with a phone call from Marguerites goddaughter, Renata Knox. Marguerite has not seen Renata since the death of Renatas mother, Candace Harris Knox, fourteen years earlier. And now that Renata is on Nantucket visiting the family of her new fiancé, she takes the opportunity, against her fathers wishes, to contact Marguerite in hopes of learning the story of her mothers life—and death. But the events of the day spiral hopelessly out of control for both women, and nothing ends up as planned.
Welcome to The Love Season—a riveting story that takes place in one day and spans decades; a story that embraces the charming, pristine island of Nantucket, as well as Manhattan, Paris and Morocco. Elin Hilderbrands most ambitious novel to date chronicles the famous couplings of real lives: love and friendship, food and wine, deception and betrayal—and forgiveness and healing.
About the Author
Elin Hilderbrand is the author of The Island, Nantucket Nights, Summer People and The Blue Bistro, among others. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a teaching/writing fellow. Her short fiction has appeared in Seventeen, The Massachusetts Review, and The Colorado Review. She lives with her husband, Chip Cunningham, and their two sons in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Questions
1. What is the love season? Is it a place in time? An environment? A feeling? Take a moment to discuss the meaning of the title.
2. A show of hands: Who has been to the island of Nantucket? How is it similar or different than portrayed in The Love Season? Others: Does this book make you want to go there for a visit?
3. The action in The Love Season centers around two elaborate meals: the one Marguerite prepares for Renata, and the dinner party at the Driscoll's. What is the significance of food--how it's prepared, served, and appreciated--in The Love Season? Discuss the dynamics, and politics, of the dining table.
4. In what ways is reading a good novel like eating a good meal? Are readers ever truly satisfied at "The End"? Or are they always left hungry for more?
5. What are the themes of hunger and nourishment that resonate throughout Marguerite's life? And in this novel?
6. Renata believed that Marguerite was like a shipwreck--she had, somewhere within her hull, a treasure trove of information about Candace. Do you think, in the end, that Renata found the answers she was looking for? Can one individual ever reveal the "truth" about another's life? How is it possible to discover someone's essence after death?
7. Talk about the characters' lives off the island of Nantucket--in Paris, Morocco, and New York City. What did these outside locations reveal about the inner lives of Marguerite, Candace, and Renata respectively?
8. During a moment of romantic desperation, the younger Marguerite had asked herself: Did love fall into categories, or was it a continuum? Were there right ways to love and wrong ways, or was there just love and its object? How might the more "modern" Renata answer these questions? How would you?
9. Discuss the symbolism of Renoir's Les Parapluies painting as it's represented and referenced in the book. (You may wish to have a reproduction of it on hand during your meeting as well.)
10. Marguerite, during her early visits with Porter, played a game called "One Word." What word would each member of your group use to describe The Love Season?