Silver Girl: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand (Reagan Arthur Books; $26.99; 416 pages. Hachette Audio, $19.98; 12 CDs.)
Elin Hilderbrand has placed her characters in Silver Girl on Nantucket Island in homage to its healing properties. The island is her home which makes the depth of details and atmospheric descriptions nearly magical. Clearly, writing well about what you know is more than just reporting what the author sees; rather, the emotional connections are more powerful when the soul of the location is translated into words. Ms. Hilderbrand seems to refine this talent with each subsequent novel. (A review of The Island: A Novel, a prior work, was posted on this site.) This reviewer listened to the unabridged audio version of Silver Girl narrated by Janet Metzger and Marianne Fraulo. Each of these women has a wide range of vocal ability which made listening to the book a delightful and satisfying experience.
In a way this novel is historical fiction, and in another it is a cautionary tale. The Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme revelation and the subsequent meltdown of many investor fortunes provide the general premise. Ms. Hilderbrand uses one of her writing strengths, portraying well-developed female characters, to tell a variation of the wife’s side of the scandal. The reader cannot help but hear the Paul Harvey intonation, “And now, the rest of the story…” as the plight of Meredith Martin Delinn unfolds following the arrest of her husband, Freddy Delinn for bilking investors out of billions of dollars.
Meredith Martin was the talented, studious and obedient Main Line Philadelphia daughter whose aquatic diving and academic skills were superior. She met and married Freddy, an ambitious student from lesser means, while on the rebound from being dumped by her first love, Toby. Although the interactions of the characters, their motivations and the impact they have on each other are vital to the life of a story, it is the way that each of them perceives his or her choices in life that makes this story connect with the reader.
Perhaps Meredith’s blind acceptance of authority, first that of her doting parents, and subsequently that of her husband, Freddy, set her up to be collateral damage from the collapse of the pyramid scheme. Or, maybe it was the knowledge that her actions in life required no courage or daring. Living a role prescribed for you may be easier than creating your own; however, eventually the shallowness and dissatisfaction must emerge from under the seemingly safe exterior. In Meredith’s case, worldwide infamy provided her the opportunity to create her own life. For others of us it may come in the form of a soul mate who appears to lead the way to a better life.
Even if you might be tired of the Madoff story, know that this spin is well worth the read.
A review copy of the audiobook (originally priced at $34.98) was provided by the publisher.