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That Summer by Lauren Willig
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That Summer

by Lauren Willig

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A fun summer beach read. ( )
  Icewineanne | Aug 4, 2016 |
I much preferred this to Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation book. I always enjoy a good story that switches between a story told in the past and one in the present. Some parts of it, most particularly the story line beginning in 1839 reminds me of the gothic feeling of Victoria Holt's books that I loved as a teenager. ( )
  Electablue | Apr 20, 2016 |
Great characters. Julia is on the forefront. Not in any way a risk-taker and doesn't really have a passion in her life. I felt for her from the beginning, being a child who lost her mother at a young age with a workaholic father who hides his feelings. Julia needed a change in her life. You could see her begin the story with an attitude that found the glass to be consistently half empty with no chance of being filled. Slowly, as Julia learns more about the history of the house and meets new people, she begins to open up and by the end of the story, she has found new meaning in her life. It was nice to see this change and I found myself analyzing all of her decisions and pushing her towards the choices that I felt would lead her in the right direction. Nick, the male lead, has also has his share of disappointments in life. We don't see him as much as I would have liked and I was a bit frustrated at first because the two of them kept pushing each other away. The typical lack of communication. Finally, however, they were able to get to the same page.

In the past story, there is Imogene. I love the comparison between she and Julia. Although their stories were ultimately different, their emotional attitude and decision making was very similar. Imogene also lost her mother and moved through life day by day, with no passion until Gavin entered her life and then she too began to show a new found exuberance. Both women, past and present, had deceitful relatives who were easy to dislike and I found myself wishing they were held more accountable for their crimes. Oh well. :) Just the simple fact that all of these characters elicited such feelings from me demonstrates the high quality of Willig's writing.

The plot was extremely engaging. I enjoyed the past story as much as the present. I won't giveaway any spoilers here but I can tell you that there is a good historical mystery connected to an old house with a little bit of romance on both fronts and a good deal of soul searching and self discovery. The history was interesting and the house was the perfect setting, both charming and mysterious with a plethora of hidden secrets inside its walls. It was truly a good read. And now, I am on a search for the next historical romance and can only hope it will be as enjoyable as this one. ( )
  Lagnella | Mar 4, 2016 |
I'm not rating this book because I didn't finish it. I just couldn't get interested in it at this time
  mchwest | Oct 24, 2015 |
Who wrote it better…? Without realizing how similar they were, I read this directly after finishing Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden, and there are so many overlaps that it's hard not to compare them. Antipodean single females unexpectedly inherit houses in England and travel there to unravel mysteries about their family history. Romance ensues with hunks who seem to enjoy cleaning out old decrepit houses. Parallel storylines unfold in past and present that illuminate the tragedies of previous generations.

I have to say this round goes to The Forgotten Garden. Both are fairly predictable, but That Summer seems flimsy and poorly written by comparison. I was not at all invested in Julia (2009 character), though Imogen's storyline (1849 character) was more engaging. The love story in the past is more unconventional, though you can see easily enough where it is going. I thought the mystery involving a hidden painting would be more gripping, but Willig fails to do for Victorian art what A.S. Byatt did for Victorian poetry in Possession.

I have read another book by Willig and disliked it intensely (the first in the Pink Carnation series). For all intents and purposes, she is a romance novelist wrapped up in a pretense of literary fiction. This is not a bad thing, but it's not to my taste as a reader. Good reviews of That Summer prompted me to give it a try. But my lukewarm response tells me this just isn't the right author for me. ( )
  sansmerci | Jun 17, 2015 |
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To Madeline.
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"Someone's left me a house," said Julia. "In England."
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"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"--… (more)

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