Eleanor Sunderland loves living on Nantucket, in a gorgeous cliffside home that has been in her family for decades. Yet this year she can’t help but feel a bit isolated, even as the island begins to come alive with summer tourists and travelers. Her best friend has skipped town on a last-minute cruise, leaving Eleanor feeling lonely and nostalgic about her family’s weekend trips to the island, made less frequently in the years since her husband’s passing. Now, her money-driven children contact her mostly to complain and to beg her to sell her beloved home for a steep payout. Hoping to kick the season off on a good note, Eleanor decides her seventieth birthday may be the perfect occasion for a much-needed reunion.
Fresh off the heels of her college graduation, Eleanor’s dear granddaughter, Ari, has just ended an engagement that felt less like true love and more like a chore. She longs for a change of scenery and to venture far from her parents’ snobbish expectations. Taking advantage of her newfound freedom, she heads to Nantucket to clear her head before graduate school, moving in with her grandmother and taking a job at the local beach camp. As she watches Eleanor begin to form a bond with an old acquaintance, Ari herself becomes completely smitten with a friend’s charming older brother. But just as grandmother and granddaughter fall into a carefree routine, a few shocking discoveries throw them off course, and their ideas of the future seem suddenly uncertain.
Eleanor and Ari make exciting connections, old and new, over the course of an unpredictable, life-changing few months, and learn to lean on each other through every new challenge they face in life and love, in this tale filled with Nancy Thayer’s signature Nantucket magic.
From the very first page of Family Reunion, I was caught up in the family moments, especially those surrounding Eleanor, the matriarch, and her granddaughter Ari.
Alicia, Eleanor’s daughter, was not a favorite of mine. Selfish and narcissistic, her purpose seemed to be bringing her mother and her daughter down. And placing her mother in an assisted living facility.
Her selfish desire to sell Eleanor’s house on Nantucket for a payoff she and other family members could divide between them, made me cringe. I was reminded of how families sometimes make decisions for the elder family members, despite what those characters want.
But Eleanor, with the help of her granddaughter, stands up to her adult children. What will they decide to do? I rooted for both Eleanor and Ari throughout. There were some unexpected surprises along the way, so I kept reading and loving this story. 5 stars.