Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills

Gabriele Wills 
Reviewed by Ingrid

Published: 2006

It's about: From the publisher's website:
"It’s the Age of Elegance in the summer playground of the affluent and powerful. Amid the pristine, island-dotted lakes and pine-scented forests of the Canadian wilderness, the young and carefree amuse themselves with glittering balls and friendly competitions. The summer of 1914 promises to be different when the ambitious and destitute son of a disowned heir joins his wealthy family at their cottage on Wyndwood Island. Through Jack’s introduction into the privileged life of the aristocratic Wyndhams and their illustrious social circle, he seeks opportunities and alliances to better himself, including in his schemes, his beautiful and audacious cousin, Victoria.

But their charmed lives begin to unravel with the onset of the Great War, in which many are destined to become part of the 'lost generation.'"

I thought: Lots and lots and lots of stuff happens in this book. Because the story moves so fast and there is so much drama all the time, I enjoyed reading for the story. However, the best part of the book were the delightful historical details; it's clear that this book was meticulously researched. I loved Will's descriptions of women's dresses and bathing costumes.

Unfortunately however, the characters felt very one-dimensional and artificial. Many suspiciously felt like 21st century characters who dressed and spoke like Edwardians, quite a few female characters were independant-minded and frustrated with the confining gender norms of their time. I was also disappointed with how much the author explained the characters' actions and motivations. Nothing was left for me to think about! This was disappointing. I like an author to trust me as a reader to understand underlying threads and work things through for myself.

Lastly, the book ends with an abrubt "to be continued in book 2..." which made me feel a bit cheated, although I suppose it did make me a little bit curious about book 2 of the series. Many threads were left hanging.

Verdict: I think I'll put this one (on the lower end of) in between. 

Warnings: Quite a lot of sex and swearing, which I admit felt a bit strange in a novel about the Edwardian era.

*I received a copy of this book to participate in Virtual Author Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. Follow the tour for this book here.