In the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal, there were no fewer than 10 book projects on the subject, mostly focusing on Madoff himself and what would possess someone to do something so vile. But did you ever wonder what it's been like for his wife, Ruth? SILVER GIRL uses this recent scandal as a jumping-off point, imagining what life would be like for the wife of a convicted felon --- a woman who is besieged by paparazzi everywhere she goes, who is persona non grata at all her normal haunts, like her favorite restaurants and hair salon. But skillful author Elin Hilderbrand just uses the "idea" of Ruth Madoff as a starting point. The story that unfolds in her 10th novel is much more than speculative thinking.
Like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, SILVER GIRL is a refreshing treat to toss into your beach bag.
Meredith Martin Delinn had it all: a handsome and successful husband, two intelligent sons, homes all over the globe, a datebook filled with parties, charity events and fashion shows. She knew she was living a charmed life. But it all came crashing down after a federal investigation accused her husband, Freddy, of defrauding millions of dollars from his wealthy investors, many of whom were their friends. Not only was Freddy on the hook for his crimes, garnering a sentence of 150 years in prison, but the feds had his son, Leo, as well as Meredith, in their sights, convinced they must have been in on the scam from the beginning. The truth is that Meredith never really understood Freddy's business and certainly didn't know that he was capable of this. She's certain that Leo, despite working for Freddy, didn't know anything about the fraud either. He had worked on the legitimate side of his father's business, but it doesn't stop them both from being under investigation.
Life as they knew it is forever changed. Meredith finds herself shunned from her society friends and hounded by the press at every turn. She's forbidden to speak to either of her sons until the investigation is complete. (Thankfully, her younger son, Carver, is not involved in any way. He buys and renovates old homes.) Life in New York City has been reduced to a self-imposed solitary confinement in their apartment, while Freddy is interred in a federal prison down south. Meredith is furious at her husband for putting them in this predicament. One word from him could make the authorities ease up on her and Leo, but Freddy is remaining silent, not uttering a word in his, or anyone else's, defense.
What Meredith needs is an escape, a place where she'll be anonymous. But where can she go and who would have her? All her friends have spurned her. Out of desperation, she calls Constance O'Brien-Flute, her childhood best friend with whom she hasn't been close for some time. Connie is getting ready to head out from her home in Maryland to her summer house on Nantucket when Meredith calls. Upon hearing the desperation in her old friend's voice, Connie invites Meredith to join her. What have I done? Connie thinks to herself. She has her own troubles to deal with. She is still grieving the death of her husband, Wolf, whom she lost to brain cancer two years ago, and has been estranged from her daughter Ashlyn since the funeral. Does she need to add Meredith's problems to the list, too?
But old friends come through for each other, even when one of the two has been less than stellar in the friendship department. There's something to be said for a shared history. Connie and Meredith grew up together on the Main Line, outside of Philadelphia. They were as close as sisters and shared everything. It was only when Meredith began dating Connie's playboy brother, Toby, that things became a bit strained. And when Toby broke teenager Meredith's heart, as Connie knew he would, they were never close again. They kept in touch, sending gifts for the births of children and holiday cards, but when Wolf was dying of cancer, Connie felt Meredith was nowhere to be found. Maybe this trip to Nantucket could restore and repair what once was, for both of them. Connie comes to realize after all of life's trials and tribulations, "The most important lesson is love." Maybe it's a lesson that two friends can learn together.
Once again, Elin Hilderbrand spins an entrancing tale of old friends, forgiveness, and the restorative powers of fresh ocean air. Unlike a lot of summer reads, the author takes time with her characters, making them fully fleshed-out human beings, with problems that are both complex and relatable. Like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, SILVER GIRL is a refreshing treat to toss into your beach bag.
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on November 3, 2011
- Publication Date: November 8, 2011
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books
- ISBN-10: 0316099678
- ISBN-13: 9780316099677