A Summer Affair (2008) is Elin Hilderbrand's latest novel set on the island of Nantucket. Artist and mother Claire Danner Crispin struggles to balance the demands of her life. Despite all that she has going on in her life, she agrees to co-chair an annual charity event on the island. With four young children, a hard-working husband, deadlines for the gala, and commissions for her artwork looming, Claire is about to crumble under the pressure.
Claire is flattered when her friend's husband, Lock Dixon, asks her to co-chair the event. She is even more honored when he also asks her to create a museum-quality piece for the auction. The pair begin spending an inordinate amount of time planning the gala and one thing leads to another; soon, Lock and Claire are involved in a love affair. Claire worries that her husband and friends might find out about her infidelity, but she also worries about how to keep Lock's interest in the face of advances made by her co-chair, a snooty Manhattan socialite.
On top of all her other responsibilities, Claire has been asked to call her old flame, rock star Max West, to convince him to perform at the benefit pro bono. Having not spoken to him in years, Claire reluctantly calls; when he agrees, she and her husband, Jason, endure yet another stress on their marriage.
Claire's struggles with the chandelier she has agreed to make reflect the discord in her life. She grows frustrated and struggles with the glass, is forced to start many parts of the piece over and over, and nearly succumbs to heat exhaustion from working under such trying conditions.
As in all of Hilderbrand's novels, the island of Nantucket features prominently as a character. Readers who have visited will recognize some of the local haunts and attractions. And for readers who have not visited the "Grey Lady," they will find themselves tempted to book a trip.
Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket year-round. She is a graduate of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa. She is the author of several novels, including The Beach Club, Nantucket Nights, Barefoot, and Summer People.