Elin Hilderbrand’s latest novel The Perfect Couple follows the story of Celeste and Benji whose Nantucket wedding is suddenly cancelled after the maid of honor is discovered dead in the ocean. Throughout the course of the novel, we get a glimpse into the investigation into her death. We also learn more about the progression of Celeste and Benji’s relationship as well as their starkly different backgrounds, with Benji coming from wealth and Celeste coming from more humble beginnings. On the outside looking in, Benji and Celeste appear to be the perfect couple. But appearances can be deceiving!
Going into this book, based on the cover and the author’s reputation for writing beach reads, I expected a ridiculously light and easy read with a fun storyline. I expected the writing to focus more on being summery and fast, and less on creating well-developed characters and themes. And then finally I started reading, and once again, the idea to not judge a book by its cover and to not be a total book snob was reinforced for me. Truly, this is a well-written novel with intriguing, multi-faceted characters and a storyline that slowly and masterfully works its way toward revealing the mystery in a surprising and satisfying manner.
Though the mystery is compelling, what makes this book enjoyable is really its characters. The bride, Celeste, is unique. She is a biology “geek” and the assistant director at the Bronx Zoo. She also has an incredibly tight-knit relationship with her parents, which is both sweet and odd at times (she calls her mother Betty!). And her inexperience with relationships and friendships, and her anxieties and insecurities, manifest themselves in interesting ways and behaviors. And Benji, the groom, is insanely wealthy and is quite taken by Celeste’s quirks and her humble background. But The Perfect Couple does not dwell on Benji and Celeste. The various other characters, including the police officers investigating the murder, along with the bride’s and groom’s family members and friends, are all given a fair amount of the story, keeping it fast-paced and dynamic.
The Perfect Couple is, in fact, the perfect beach read, reminding me that just because something’s a beach read doesn’t make it all fluff and no substance! It has the perfect balance of all the elements you look for in a beach read. It has beachy imagery with its descriptions of Nantucket. It has mystery with its exploration into the cause of the maid of honor’s death. And, of course, there is romance, with the characters’ various complicated relationships and affairs.
Check out The Perfect Couple on GoodReads.