Author Elin Hilderbrand's first novel, The Beach Club (2001), is set on Nantucket, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. The novel chronicles one summer at the Nantucket Beach Club and Hotel.
The club is managed by Mack Peterson, an Iowa native who is in his twelfth season at the club. He stole his coveted position from another candidate by simply getting off the ferry a few minutes earlier. Professionally, Mack endures the trials and tribulations of an exclusive club manager as the summer progresses. Bellman Vance Robbins envies Mack's position as manager and is almost overtly hostile toward him. The club's receptionist, Love O'Donnell, has an agenda; she is determined to find a man who will be suitable to get her pregnant before it is too late for her to have children. And Bill Elliott, the club's owner, continually receives letters from someone interested in purchasing the club. As for his personal life, Mack's beautiful girlfriend, Maribel, is pushing him to get married; she is seemingly unaware that she is the object of another's affection, which could provide a potential problem for Mack.
As the summer progresses, Bill's daughter, Cecily, gives new meaning to being a rebellious teenager. Jem Crandall, a handsome local, considers changing his plans to move to Los Angeles where he had planned to pursue acting once he falls for Maribel. And Vance, unable to stand his lot in life for another minute, continues taking action: the kind of action that might just get Mack out of the way permanently. Club matriarch Lacey Gardner (a member for 45 years) is involved in everyone's business. The novel reaches a crescendo when a hurricane makes its way up the coast and threatens the club.
Though not a native of the island, Hilderbrand is a year-round resident of Nantucket and has authored a series of novels set on the island, including A Summer Affair, Barefoot, Nantucket Nights, and Summer People. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa. In real life, Hilderbrand's husband manages Nantucket's Cliffside Beach Club, the inspiration for the novel.