Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: “The Summer Before the Storm” by Gabriele Wills

summercover_createspaceƒa_ebook.inddThe Summer Before the Storm Gabriele Wills
Published: June 21, 2011
ISBN-10: 097328056
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Virtual Author Book Tours

Summary (from the back of the book):
Muskoka, 1914.  It’s the Age of Elegance in the summer playground of the affluent and powerful.  Amid the pristine, island-dotted lakes, the granite cliffs, and pine-scented forests of the Canadian wilderness, the young and carefree amuse themselves with glittering balls, lavish picnics, and friendly competitions.  But this summer promises to be different with the charming, 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 social circle—including captains of industry and financial titans—he seeks opportunities and alliances to better himself, including in his schemes, his beautiful, headstrong, and audacious cousin, Victoria.

Among their large circle of family and friends are hedonists and intellectuals, charlatans and Bohemians, hypocrites and philanthropists; the witty, frivolous, the heroic, the autocratic, the caring, and the tormented.  Vividly they bring to life the idyllic lifestyle of endless summers on tranquil lakes.  But their charmed lives begin to unravel with onset of the Great War, in which many are destined to become part of the “lost generation.”

Thoughts on Content (3.0 / 5.0): The first thing to be said about this book is that it is the first in the trilogy.  Because of that, I don’t feel that I can really comment on the effectiveness of the plot since it continues into two other books.  I will say that the best way to describe this book—at least the first half—would be a Canadian Downton Abbey.  These are the richest of the rich and they live accordingly.  The plot itself is pretty clear—they lives of the privileged as they head towards World War I. 

Thoughts on Style (2.5 / 5.0): 
As I said, I cannot fault the “incompleteness” of the plot in this book as it is part of a trilogy.  However, I found two very major problems with this book.  The first is that this book doesn’t seem to have a balanced direction.  After reading the description above, one would think that Jack is the main character of the book.  And, for the first quarter of the book, that would be true.  But, it is actually Victoria who is the main character.  There are many parts in the book when you seem to be following the thoughts of one character and, without any kind of transition, you are in the mind of another character.

Secondly, and this is one of my biggest pet peeves of a book, is that there are too many characters!  I understand that the elite moved in a certain circle, but I simply could not keep everyone straight.  Few of the characters were developed and most were unlikeable.  I couldn’t find a reason for many of them to even be in the book.  Finally, I just gave up trying to keep up with the characters, and that is never a good thing for a reader to do.

My Thoughts (2.5 / 5.0 ): This book was a bit of a trial for me to read.  I was just exhausted trying to keep up with everyone.  That being said, I did enjoy reading about the Muskoka life—it reminded me of summers with my family on the lake in Minnesota (without all the hired help!).  I probably would have enjoyed this story more had it been dramatized into a Masterpiece Theater mini-series or the like. 

I would be hesitant to recommend this book.  While I can’t say I found it enjoyable to read, I’m sure that I will read the other two books in the trilogy at some point.  However, that is because I feel I owe it to myself after spending the time reading this book than out of any enjoyment.


This review is part of a blog tour by Virtual Author Book Tours. I received a copy of the book to read and review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are mine, and mine alone.

For more opinions about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour (Links go to the blog, not the specific review):
November 1 - Books and Needlepoint
November 2 - Broken Teepee
November 5 - Bags, Books & Bon Jovi
November 6 - BookNAround
November 7 - Griperang’s Bookmarks
November 8 - To Read or Not to Read
November 9 - ReadingPenguin
November 12 -
November 13 - Bassgiraffe’s Thoughts
November 16 - Bodice Ripper Novels
November 19 - The Eclectic Reader
November 20 - Book Dilettante
November 22 - Em Sun
November 26 - Blue Book Case
November 27 - My Devotional Thoughts
November 28 - Book Lover’s Library
November 29 - Peaceful Wishing
December 3 - Stitch, Read, Cook
December 5 - Sweeps4Bloggers
December 6 - Mom In Love With Fiction
December 7 - M. Denise C

Affiliate Link: Purchase this book at Amazon.


  1. Thank you for taking part in the tour, Melinda. It's interesting that you considered the book to be a Canadian Downton Abbey.
    Gabriele Wills

  2. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour!