I was excited to see a holiday story set on Nantucket, I love the islands and coast, and the setting itself is a lovely place for the holidays. I was not expecting a super heart-warming story from the blurb, but the ‘chatter’ about Hilderbrand’s characters being intriguing and engaging was a major selling point.
A story that focuses on a dysfunctional family that has come together over a 3 day span ending with Christmas dinner had many places where scenes and issues will feel familiar: those particular issues that are year-round but seem to become more acute in the holidays. Whether it is the ‘Rockwell-esque’ imagery we all hold as ideal and can never attain, or the issues are so all-encompassing that we are destined to fail, I’m never quite sure, but this story is one long downhill slide of everything you shouldn’t have happen in the holidays.
Sadly the Quinn family felt more ‘close knit’ because of blood and obligation, rather than true sharing and caring. Sure, they love each other, but there wasn’t a moment when I felt a true connection or emotion from any of the characters: each was aware of their own failings and issues, but none had a plan or a solid thought as to how to improve things. Insets from each perspective, we see the three days unfold with their own prejudices and judgments, and behind their own veils of self-absorption. What I didn’t get was any sort of emotional pull or draw – in a crafting technique that is usually unfailing in the impact for a reader.
Even more discouraging for me, as a listener, was the lack of solid conclusion – the book ended with no resolutions to speak of, hinting at more to come as each of the family members starts to deal with their issues. As a reader, this is a disappointment, not having a sense that anyone found resolution.
The saving grace in this AudioBook for me was the narration from Erin Bennett. Her modulation, tone and clarity were spot on, with gradual and subtle inflections, pitch changes and addition of emotional overlay to highlight the characters and words on the pages. My first encounter with her work, and it will not be the last.
In short, this was a miss for me in all but narration.
Stars: Overall: 3 Narration: 4 Story: 2
Title: Winter Street
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Holiday Themed, Literary Fiction /Family Saga
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Published by: Hachette Audio, Little Brown
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 6 Hours: 51 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound
In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand's first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.
Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.
As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.
Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.