Monday, July 1, 2019

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig (TLC Book Tour Review and GIVEAWAY!)

Once I read the first page of The Summer Country, this novel held me within its grip and didn’t let me go until the very last page.  Even then, I couldn’t stop thinking about this story and this novel.  I was hosting a family reunion, but I stayed up too late at night as I couldn’t stop reading this book. The Summer Country is another novel that is going to end up on my favorite books of 2019.

 The Summer Country is a historical fiction novel set in the 19th century in Barbados.  Emily is a fish out of water visiting Barbados for the first time with her cousin Adam and his wife, her best friend Laura, in 1854.  Upon their arrival, Emily finds out that while her cousin Adam has inherited the family business, she has inherited a ruined plantation.  Adam is even more surprised that the business associate that his grandfather has sent them to is of African descent.  As Emily, Adam, and Laura get to know the area, they are invited to stay at Beckles, which is the neighboring estate to Emily’s inheritance of Peverills.  As they stay at the estate, a mystery unravels that took place over forty years before in 1812.  What does this mystery have to do with them?  Why has Emily inherited the estate?  And why does Mrs. Davenant seem to have set her sights on obtaining the Peverills estate?

Charles Davenant has just arrived back to Barbados after spending most of his youth in England being educated.  His father has died, but he has returned to take over the Peverill estate.  His younger brother is less than thrilled to receive him, and Charles is shocked to see the true state of the island and the moral quandary of owning slaves.  With his trusted bookkeeper, Fenty, Charles attempts to put the estate back in order.  Will he be able to turn things around?  Will marriage help his estate?

I loved this novel.  The setting and story were fantastic.  The novel read like a Victorian novel (I love Victorian novels!), but unlike most Victorian novels, The Summer Country digs into the story of race in Barbados and what it meant to those that were slaves and those that owned slaves.  The story was multilayered.  Besides being told between two narrators in two different time periods, the story is a mystery that gives you one piece at a time to eventually lead to an intriguing conclusion.  I couldn’t stop reading this novel.  It reminded me structurally of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morten, a novel I also greatly enjoyed.

As a water resources engineer, I was greatly intrigued by the cholera epidemic in the 1854 timeline.  It was truly terrifying and a great look into what life would have been like when cholera would sweep through and devastate a city.

Favorite Quotes:
“Not servants; slaves.  It was too easy to fall into the local custom, mincing about with euphemisms sidling past uncomfortable realities with half-truths.”

“Her mother had written about the moral rot of slavery; sinking into the soul one luxury at a time, and Emily could feel her own soul in the balance, a decaying thing tricked out in lace and gold bangles.”

“If I were to put my reputation before my responsibilities, then I would be a poor character, indeed.  I don’t care what busybodies think, but I do care for my own good opinion.”

“It’s a virtue to know one’s own heart and mind.  It saves a lot of bother and a great deal of unhappiness.”

tlc_tour_host.pngOverall, The Summer Country is one of the best novels I have read this year. It is a Victorian story that delves into the heart of slavery as it searches for the truth of one family’s past.  The story had a tone of Jane Austen manners at time mixed with Charlotte Bronte gothic mystery.  I highly recommend it.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  For more stops on this tour - check out this link.

About The Summer Country

  A brilliant, multigenerational saga in the tradition of THE THORN BIRDS and NORTH AND SOUTH, New York Timesbestselling historical novelist Lauren Willig delivers her biggest, boldest, and most ambitious novel yet—a sweeping Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.
 Barbados, 1854: Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous English merchant clan-- merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados—a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.

When Emily accompanies her cousin and his new wife to Barbados, she finds Peverills a burnt-out shell, reduced to ruins in 1816, when a rising of enslaved people sent the island up in flames. Rumors swirl around the derelict plantation; people whisper of ghosts.

Why would her practical-minded grandfather leave her a property in ruins? Why are the neighboring plantation owners, the Davenants, so eager to acquire Peverills?

The answer lies in the past— a tangled history of lies, greed, clandestine love, heartbreaking betrayal, and a bold bid for freedom. THE SUMMER COUNTRY will beguile readers with its rendering of families, heartbreak, and the endurance of hope against all odds.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Amanda Suanne Photography[/caption]

About Lauren Willig

Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several novels. She lives in New York City with her family. Find out more about Lauren at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I was accidentally mailed two Advance Reader Edition's of The Summer Country so I am going to give one of them away! If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book.  What is your favorite Victorian novel or your favorite novel that explores slavery?
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday July 12th!

Please make sure to check the week of July 15th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!


  1. This historical sounds fascinating, intriguing and captivating. The locale, era and story interests me greatly. Cashelmara by Susan Howatch was a novel which was unforgettable and beautifully written. Thanks for this lovely feature and giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Wow!! It sounds fantastic, and I like that it has so much going on (mystery, family drama, historical, etc).

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  3. A historical family saga written by a talented author whose books are special. The Clockmaker's Daughter was a memorable novel. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. I love historical fiction and your recommendations. Sounds like a good read! Thanks!

  5. Laura, thank you for a great review and a terrific giveaway! I'm not sure which novels are my favorites in regard to your questions. I will add this giveaway to my blog's sidebar, to share with my readers.

    suko95(at)gmail (dot)com

  6. Wow, it's been a long time since I've read a Lauren Willig novel. I like the sound of this one, especially that it's set in Barbados. Might be time to read another Willig. :)

  7. I reviewed this one as well, recently. It is a very good book, but I found it a touch slow at times.

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