Title: That Summer
Author: Lauren WIllig
Rating: 8/10 (What this means)
Publication: June 2014
Recommendation: Loved it! Go read it!
My Reading Method: Kindle Book (Purchased for $10.99 on Amazon.)
“2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn’t been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house—with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas—bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house’s shrouded history begins to open…
1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur’s collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.
From modern-day England to the early days of the Preraphaelite movement, Lauren Willig’s That Summer takes readers on an un-put-downable journey through a mysterious old house, a hidden love affair, and one woman’s search for the truth about her past—and herself.”
***WARNING-MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!***
So, first of all, I probably should let you know that I loooove Lauren Willig books. This review is of a glowing nature.
10 Notable things about That Summer:
10.) I absolutely adored this book. After reading it I immediately logged onto Amazon and bought The Ashford Affair kindle edition.
9.) Lauren Willig knows what she’s talking about. After graduating from Yale, she attended Harvard for a PhD in English History, but switched to Harvard Law while writing her first book in her popular Pink Carnation series. While most of her books are pure fiction, she is able to incorporate a great deal of historical fact into her stories.
8.) Although this comes across as a happy little romance, it has some darker elements that give the story depth. Lots of family drama, misunderstood characters, mystery, and brooding artists. (Ok, maybe ‘brooding’ is the wrong word to use… more ‘introspective’ or ‘pensive’)
7.) Multiple POV. Obviously. (Really, I don’t know how one would switch between the time periods without it.) This book switches back and forth between 2009 and 1849 quite seamlessly. Usually the chapters leave the reader with some kind of cliffhanger, but in this book (unlike some of the ones in her Pink Carnation series) I was not tempted to skip ahead and read one specific character more than the other.
Huzzah! Well done, Ms. Willig!
6.) Little bit of contemporary fiction… a dash of historical fiction… throw in a smidgen of romance. Seriously. If you like either modern or historical books, this could work for you, especially if you’re trying to branch out of a specific genre.
Librarians: I’ll certainly keep this on my reader’s advisory list as a good one to pull out for a variety of patrons.
5.) Not a series. (At least, not yet.) Can we please go back to a time when we had more stand-alone books? I miss the days when I wouldn’t have to worry about a sequel messing up my perfectly happy ending. And that’s what this is! Halleluiah. You can read this book and be DONE with the story. Phew. It’s like a special sort of relief.
4.) The ending was tied up nicely but I can’t say that it was what I was expecting. (Is this becoming a trend?? Didn’t I just say this in my last review?) I have a very specific cookie cutter mold for the adult romances that I read, but this didn’t exactly fit into that mold. And truthfully, I really don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to completely ruin it for anyone- but don’t be surprised with a small twist.
Note: I may have read one small paragraph more than once and thought to myself, “Huh? Really? Are you sure?”
3.) Maybe this corresponds with number nine, but Willig never talks down to the reader. She doesn’t heap her book with SAT words or anything, but this book clearly isn’t written on a fourth grade level. She manages to accomplish this without sounding like a pompous prick, too, which is a nice bonus. I can appreciate an author that doesn’t automatically assume that I don’t know what ‘subsumed’ means, but also has the ability to relate to popular culture (really, any author that can easily and accurately reference Harry Potter is swell in my opinion).
2.) Oddly, I think Lauren Willig has a weird obsession with pole dancing. She mentions it multiple times in That Summer, which I found to be rather bizarre because the book is not, in fact, about pole dancing AT ALL. (For example, the father character regards his daughter’s career in business as if it were pole dancing.) Usually, when these sections came up my thoughts strayed from the story to suddenly to defending the pole dancers possibly reading this book.
I mean, come on! Pole dancing seems like a hard job! And women today pay good money for pole dancing exercise classes!
Ok, so I’m not actually trying to get all PC about the book. I do see the supposed humor; it was simply one area that I felt like the author was trying a little too hard to be funny and (in my sole opinion) failed. To me, the statement was really weird, and made me wonder if this is some kind of comparison that Ms. Willig perhaps makes on a regular basis. Or maybe she’s secretly intrigued with pole dancing… I don’t know.
Pole dancers reading this review, I’ve got your back.
1.) I was really trying to come up with something prolific to say for the number one spot, but nothing is coming to mind. Overall, this is a really entertaining book. I enjoyed this thoroughly, but I don’t feel like my world has changed in any manner after reading it. It’s just… entertainment. Maybe not as trashy as some, and yet, this book wasn’t particularly meaningful, either. Just a nice, fluffy, satisfying read.
My Summary: If you’re thinking of a perfect beach read, look no further, this is it.
If anyone can get me on an ARC list for Lauren Willig, I would love you forever.
You can also read this review on Goodreads.
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You can read the first chapter on Lauren Willig’s website here. http://www.laurenwillig.com/books/thatsummer.php