The Five-Star Weekend Summary, Characters and Themes

The Five-Star Weekend is a 2023 novel by Elin Hilderbrand. 

The story follows Hollis Shaw, a recently widowed food blogger who invites four friends from different stages of her life to her Nantucket home for a “Five-Star Weekend.” The weekend is meant to be a celebration of friendship, but old tensions, unexpected guests, and hidden secrets quickly surface.


Hollis Shaw, a renowned food blogger grappling with the sudden death of her husband, Matthew, decides to host a “five-star weekend” at her Nantucket home. She invites four friends from different stages of her life, hoping to rekindle connections and find solace.

Her daughter, Caroline, a film student, is tasked with documenting the weekend, aiming to create a deeper narrative than just showcasing gourmet meals and picturesque scenery.

Tatum, Hollis’s childhood friend, arrives harboring anxiety over a recent breast biopsy. 

Dru-Ann, a high-profile sports agent, faces a public relations crisis after a misconstrued video goes viral. 

Brooke, a mother struggling with her husband’s infidelity, seeks solace and support. 

Lastly, Gigi, an online friend who bonded with Hollis over shared grief, joins the group, unbeknownst to them that she had a secret affair with Matthew.

The weekend unfolds with unexpected drama, heightened by the arrival of Hollis’s ex-boyfriend, Jack, and the intrusion of Electra, a former friend who exposes Gigi’s secret.

As the weekend progresses, the women confront their individual challenges, revealing vulnerabilities and seeking forgiveness. 

Caroline gains a newfound understanding of her mother’s grief through conversations with her friends, while Tatum rekindles her friendship with Hollis and forgives Dru-Ann for past hurts. 

Dru-Ann faces her PR crisis with integrity, ultimately emerging stronger. Brooke, supported by her friends, decides to divorce her husband and embraces her sexuality. 

Hollis confronts Gigi, leading to a tearful but forgiving resolution.

The novel concludes with the women, having grown and healed, returning from a trip to Rome, their bonds deepened. 

As they settle into their flight home, they hear a familiar voice over the intercom—Gigi, their pilot, guiding them safely back.

The Five Star Weekend Summary


Hollis Shaw

Hollis is a well-known food blogger and the protagonist of the story. She is recently widowed and grieving the loss of her husband, Matthew. 

Hollis organizes a “Five-Star Weekend” to reconnect with four friends from different stages of her life, seeking solace and comfort in their companionship. 

She is depicted as warm, welcoming, and passionate about food and friendship. However, beneath her cheerful facade, she grapples with grief, loneliness, and insecurity.

Caroline Madden

Caroline is Hollis’s daughter, an aspiring filmmaker studying at New York University. She is initially hesitant about her mother’s Five-Star Weekend, viewing it as a frivolous distraction from their shared grief. 

As the weekend unfolds, she becomes more involved in documenting the events, discovering hidden tensions and unexpected developments among the guests. 

Caroline’s perspective provides insight into Hollis’s character and the complexities of their mother-daughter relationship.

Tatum McKenzie

Tatum is Hollis’s childhood friend who is facing a health scare. 

She is awaiting the results of a breast biopsy, which adds a layer of anxiety to her weekend experience. Tatum is portrayed as loyal and caring, deeply valuing her friendship with Hollis. 

However, old tensions and misunderstandings from their past resurface during the weekend, challenging their bond.

Dru-Ann Jones

Dru-Ann is a successful sports agent and television personality, dealing with a public relations crisis that threatens her career

She is depicted as confident, ambitious, and sometimes blunt. Dru-Ann’s interactions with the other women, particularly Tatum, reveal a complicated history of rivalry and resentment. 

Her journey during the weekend involves confronting her past mistakes and seeking forgiveness.

Brooke Kirtley

Brooke is Hollis’s friend from their time raising children together. She is struggling with her husband’s infidelity and the unraveling of her marriage. 

Brooke is portrayed as kind, compassionate, and supportive of her friends. As the weekend progresses, she confronts her marital issues and explores a new path of self-discovery.

Gigi Ling

Gigi is a newcomer to the group, having connected with Hollis through her food blog. She is an airline pilot with a mysterious past. 

Gigi’s presence adds an element of intrigue to the story, as her connection to Hollis and her hidden secrets gradually come to light.

Jack Finigan

Jack is Hollis’s former high school sweetheart, who unexpectedly shows up during the weekend. 

His presence stirs up old feelings and memories for Hollis, complicating her journey of healing and moving forward.

Electra Undergrove

Electra is a former friend of Hollis and Brooke, who arrives uninvited to the Five-Star Weekend. 

She brings with her a secret that could potentially disrupt the fragile peace among the friends. Electra’s presence adds a layer of drama and conflict to the story, forcing the characters to confront unresolved issues from their past.


The Importance of a Multifaceted Identity

In “The Five-Star Weekend,” Elin Hilderbrand explores the multifaceted nature of identity through the character of Hollis Shaw. 

As a successful food blogger, Hollis is known for her curated online persona, showcasing a seemingly perfect life. However, the death of her husband reveals the cracks beneath the surface, exposing her vulnerabilities and struggles with grief. 

Throughout the weekend, Hollis navigates her various roles as a mother, friend, widow, and public figure, highlighting the complexity of human identity. 

The novel emphasizes that individuals are not defined by a single role but rather by a collection of experiences, relationships, and passions that shape their unique identities.

Growth and Forgiveness in Relationships

Hilderbrand delves into the complexities of female friendships and the transformative power of growth and forgiveness in relationships. 

Each of Hollis’s friends arrives on Nantucket with their own personal burdens and conflicts. Through shared experiences, open communication, and a willingness to confront past hurts, the women learn to forgive each other and themselves. 

The novel illustrates that relationships are not static but rather evolve over time, requiring understanding, compassion, and a willingness to embrace change. 

The characters’ individual journeys of growth and forgiveness ultimately strengthen their bonds, reinforcing the importance of supportive and meaningful connections in navigating life’s challenges.

The Supportive Nature of Friendship

“The Five-Star Weekend” underscores the importance of friendship as a source of support and solace during challenging times. 

Hollis’s carefully curated weekend is meant to be a celebration of friendship, but it quickly evolves into a space for vulnerability, honesty, and healing. As the women share their burdens and fears, they find comfort and strength in each other’s presence. 

The novel showcases the different ways friends can offer support, whether through listening, advice, or simply being present. 

Ultimately, the supportive nature of friendship emerges as a central theme, illustrating the profound impact genuine connections can have on individual well-being and resilience.

The Complexities of Grief

Hilderbrand explores the complexities of grief through Hollis’s journey of mourning the loss of her husband. 

Hollis’s grief manifests in various ways, from denial and anger to guilt and profound sadness. The novel does not shy away from portraying the messy and unpredictable nature of grief, highlighting its impact on Hollis’s relationships and daily life. 

Through her interactions with her friends and daughter, Hollis gradually learns to confront her pain, accept her loss, and find ways to move forward. 

The novel’s portrayal of grief serves as a reminder that healing is not a linear process but rather a complex journey that requires time, support, and self-compassion.