Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills

Muskoka is the summer playground for the very wealthy families that want to escape the stifling heat of summer in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The year is 1914 and one such family living there in the summer is the Wyndwoods. This large family lives an easy and fun filled summer with servants to meet their every need. The matriarch of the family is Augusta Wyndwood who took over the running of the family and business when her husband died. Al she has to do is threaten disinheritance and the family members jump to attention and do as she bids.

There are too numerous characters to mention here however I will mention the main characters of this story. Victoria is the headstrong granddaughter of Augusta. She would like to have more of the freedoms that men have but Augusta would like to marry her off to a wealthy cousin, Justin who is in love with Victoria. Victoria however is in love with her other wealthy cousin, Chas.

Then there is Jack, Augusta's grandson. He shows up, when the story opens, as a waiter at the resort restaurant that the family goes to every Monday for dinner. The next day he shows up at the Wyndwood estate and is introduced by Augusta. Jacks father was disinherited by Augusta for marrying beneath himself. His family was very poor and he died fairly young, leaving his family to survive on their own. Jack hopes to ingratiate himself into the family.

The family live there usual glutinous summer on the lake, boating, swimming, playing tennis, and the other things in their idyllic lifestyle. However, things start to turn dark when WWI is threatened and many of Victoria's cousins go off to war, to eventually become part of "the lost generation."

This story travels from Muskoka, Ontario Canada to Britain, and the skies of war torn France. It includes the horrific bombing and sinking of the famous Lusitania ship of the shores of Britain. There is a little of something for everyone including, wealthy living, romance, mystery, adventure, and war.

It is evident the Gabriele Wills did her research of the period. She has beautiful writing and very interesting characters that leap out from the pages. There are a couple more minor story lines that I didn't really care for. For instance Helena, who marries Victoria's father James later in the story. She is a stereotypical conniving stepmother. This took away from the story for me. That said, I really did enjoy this book over. This book is the first of a trilogy and I hope to read the other two books.


Gabriele Wills was our guest back in April and she did a guest post on Why I Love Times of Monumental Change.

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