Barefoot: A Novel, by Erin Hilderbrand (Read by Katie Hale)
Anyone watching the three attractive women and the two adorable children enjoying a sunny day at the beach on Nantucket would assume that their lives are blessed with a special kind of happiness reserved for the beautiful and privileged. What can't be seen by an outsider is the anguish and distress each of the women carried with her to the Nantucket shore, hoping the summer sun would ease her torment and provide answers to her dilemma. Vicki has cancer and must face the possibility that even the most aggressive forms of treatment might not save her life. Her sister, Brenda, a renowned literary scholar is facing disgrace and a ruined career after having an affair with a student. Vicki's friend Melanie's joy at finally being pregnant is obliterated by her discovery that her husband is having an affair with a co-worker. Local boy, Josh Flynn, provides some form of comfort to each of the women as he uses the summer encounters to discover answers his own questions.
Elin Hilderbrand carries the listener to Nantucket as though transported with the summer throngs on a crowded ferry. The descriptions of the salty air, the sun-warmed sand, the tastes of farm-fresh vegetables, and the floral scents of warm summer nights are so real that the listener feels like an additional occupant of the girls' summer cottage. Hilderbrand is equally skilled at developing well-defined characters who interact realistically and who, though very different, all gain the listener's compassion and respect. The memory of the characters lingers long after the book's conclusion. It's a tribute to the narrator, Katie Hale, that she can portray these unique personalities so effectively. Each character's voice is recognizable, even when all are talking together.
Barefoot is not only an absorbing story of three women and their personal struggles, it brings to mind memories of the magic of summer. Certainly, this would be a perfect audio book for a road trip along the New England coast, but it's also ideal for anyone who wants to take a virtual beach vacation. It's a convincing reminder that the healing effect of summer sunshine, a restful vacation, and the support of loving friends is hard to beat.