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I read one book by Elin Hilderbrand, years ago. I’m pretty sure it was A Summer Affair, and while I don’t remember anything about the book, I do recall that I liked her writing style. I’m not really sure why I didn’t pick up another one of her books until now…but I’m glad I did. The Perfect Couple was the perfect reintroduction to this fine writer.
The Perfect Couple. Hmmm, does that even exist? According to the events in this book the answer to that question is a resounding NO. The concept of a perfect couple is an illusion…just like many of the perfect couples in this book.
The book starts off with a body being found in the ocean on the morning of Celeste and Benji’s wedding in Nantucket. The body is that of the maid of honor…found, unfortunately by the bride herself. This discovery sends the bride to the hospital in distress and sets up a plethora of questions that need answering by the police. How did she die? Was she murdered or was this an unfortunate accident of horrendously poor timing? Or even suicide? Whatever the cause of death, it’s a recipe for chaos on the day of the impending nuptials.
The author creatively introduces us to the main players of this drama, both as it unfolds on the day of the wedding, and through flashbacks in the past. This novel is both plot driven and character driven, with a well fleshed out cast of characters full of secrets. There’s the bride who isn’t sure she should get married. There’s the bride’s mother, dying of breast cancer. The groom’s mother, a world renowned mystery writer who is slowly uncovering some mysteries about her family that she may need to lie about. The groom’s father, a charming playboy. The best man who disappears upon the discovery of the body. And of course, the maid of honor herself who is definitely not innocent, although, unfortunately, she is the only one with a secret who is dead. With each passing chapter another secret is divulged, making this quite a page turner, despite its 465 page heft. (I finished it in 3 days.)
Throughout the book, the reader can easily piece things together after each new reveal, but it wasn’t till about the 75% mark that I figured out what happened and why. Plus along the way there were quite a few red herrings—I thought the book was going in a direction that it wasn’t a few times. And even after my assumption was proved correct, I didn’t feel cheated out of the end of the book, the big “twist”, as I so often feel like I am with other suspenseful novels. That was the beauty of The Perfect Couple. It wasn’t like other novels because it wasn’t just about the plot…it was about the characters. Flawed and morally questionable characters who are far from perfect, but you find yourself caring about them anyway.
I definitely recommend picking up this book. Reserve it at the library IMMEDIATELY or you will have to wait an interminably long time to get a copy. Or better yet, pick up a copy on Amazon and you can read it next weekend.
***By the way, the author is a breast cancer survivor and it is evident that her characterization of Karen, the bride’s mother, is based on a lot of her own experiences as a mother facing a devastating and debilitating illness. At the end of the novel she shares her support of the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. If you enjoy this novel, please consider making a donation to the foundation.