"Sail on silver girl. Sail on by" These words from the Simon and Garfunkel song, "Bridge over Troubled Water," both haunt and comfort Meredith Martin Delinn as she reflects on the promise of her early life and the desperate situation she in which she now finds herself. Growing up as the adored only child of a prosperous father, she often heard him call her his silver girl, who could accomplish anything. To remind her of her unlimited potential he gave her the record album, and it became her most treasured possession after his death. When she married the poor, but brilliant economics student Freddy Delinn, her life began to fill with expensive possessions, until she found herself bathed in jewels and designer clothing and surrounded by mansions, luxury cars, a yacht and an airplane. All that is gone, now, and the record album is one of her few remaining possessions. Unbeknownst to her, Freddy, orchestrated a ponzi scheme, bilking their friends and other wealthy investors out of billions of dollars. He is serving a 150 year prison term and she's about to become homeless, forbidden to contact her sons, one of whom worked with Freddy and is under investigation in the fraud case. Meredith is suspected of being involved, too, and neither she nor her son will be cleared unless Freddy breaks his silence and discloses the whereabouts of the hidden bank accounts. Scorned and vilified by her friends, all her former acquaintances and the general public, Meredith accepts her former best friend Connie's invitation to spend the summer at her beach house in Nantucket. Although the two had become estranged in recent years, their bond of friendship forged in childhood allows them to rebuild their relationship. Both women are learning to live with loneliness--Connie because of the death of her husband and Meredith because of her husband's treachery. Once former investors learn of Meredith's presence on Nantucket, she and Connie become victims hate crimes, but a handsome handyman comes to their aid.
Hildebrand's story is more than a story about greed, betrayal and the healing power of love and forgiveness, it is an engaging mystery with elements of surprise. It is also a travelogue of Nantucket, with enticing descriptions of lovely beaches, charming homes and exhilarating water sports. Connie's gourmet cooking lessons for Meredith provide the listener with bona fide recipes, while taunting the taste buds, giving the audio book a multi-sensual dimension. Two women, Janet Metzger and Marianne Fraulo, both former CNN on-air personalities, effectively convey the conflicting emotions of Connie and Meredith, letting the listener share their journey of renewed love and trust.
The similarities to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal are obvious immediately, and it is impossible to listen to the book without wondering how many of situations Meredith encounters were also experienced by Ruth Madoff. However, an internet search suggests that while their husbands committed similar crimes, the two women are unalike, except for their excessive spending. Ultimately, the similarity becomes just a curious historical side note and Silver Girl emerges as an appealing story, with likable, believable characters who deal courageously with extraordinary circumstances in a beautiful setting. Highly recommended.
Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Read by Janet Metzger and Marianne Fraulo
Hachette Audio, unabridged: 14.5 hours on 12 CDs