It is 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....
In 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 16-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 listeners 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.
©2014 Lauren Willig (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
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"I liked it"
Because I read a lot of books, I tend to encounter very similar plots. However, this one kept me guessing and I, like the main characters, enjoy a good puzzle, so it was fun following them through their logic and research as they fitted the pieces together.
I found myself so engrossed in this book. Willing does it again! This book was every bit as good as her Pink Carnation books. The progression was good and the characters were believable and lovable.
"Easy to listen story that keep my attention"
I was looking for a book that had a little love and. Good story line. Glad I found this one. Narrator was very good made the listen enjoyable. The story swaps back and forth from the past, but very well done and not confusing.
"History, Mystery & Romance"
A captivating and entertaining read, capturing the suppression and hypocrisy of Victorian England as well as the insecurities and complexities of life and relationships today.
"An interesting puzzle initially, but ..."
Yes, in the beginning, but then I lost interest and did not finish. The opening had so much promise, but then it faltered. Too much back history and not enough character development of the main character If she was so smart as a financial analyst, let us learn why she is so naive and stupid in her interpersonal relationships.
Mostly expected. Again, I did not read all the way because I like smart heroines to be smart heroines.
It was okay enough. I thought the voice used for the americans was pretty lame and shrill. The British voices were better performed.
I was sad that this book just petered out in a slow and boring way. There was so much promise in the beginning. I wish some of the peripheral characters had been more fully developed to add a richness to the plot and prose. Natalie was interesting, despite the set-up scenes, but ...
It stretches credibility that the main character would be so smart and yet she can't talk straight and then lets "the man" take over. This is not realistic or even pleasing to read. If you set a book up as having a smart woman, then follow through. The era of the stupid female must surely be almost over.
It is not the same depth of a Pink Carnation story. But I liked it. A quick read (listen). I liked the characters in both time lines.
"Slightly disappointed at the ending"
Kind of a lame ending. It just trails off ... Otherwise relaxing novel to listen to in my truck.
I had a lot of issues with this book - and audiobook in particular. Normally I'm a big fan of Nicola Barber as a narrator - however I feel like she missed the mark with this one. Julia's character spoke with an American accent - yet all of her thoughts were in a British accent... how does that make sense? It was sometimes hard to follow when both Julia and Natalie were in the same scene and I had to concentrate way too hard to make sure I knew who was speaking. When Julia's train of thought would end with Natalie's spoken words - I often had to hit rewind and that's annoying. And then we had Imogen and Gavin - and it was great to have multiple perspectives but it would have been nice to have Gavin's perspective and inner thoughts in his spoken voice - not the voice of Imogen/Julia. I think the first time she introduced Gavin's thoughts - it sounded more like his spoken voice but then that completely dropped off and it was weird. Just weird. They just didn't plan all of that out very well and it definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the whole story. So BLAH on that.
As for the story.... Julia was mega annoying and I listened to Imogen and Gavin's story with a sense of dread and foreboding the entire time. However - I did not expect it to turn so sinister!!! And even the ending didn't really give me any happy feels of closure... I just felt kinda relieved that I didn't have to listen to it anymore.
I've been a big fan of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series so I was excited to read something different from her... but it fell flat in so many ways. Phrases like 'The realization hit her like a triple shot of espresso.' had me constantly rolling my eyes. I don't know if my taste in books has just matured over the years or maybe it sounded lamer coming out of Nicola Barber's mouth than if I had read it. Kinda makes me want to go back to her other series to see if it had stuff like that, too. Though I do remember putting The Ashford Affair down intentionally because I quite dislike stories with adultery... and I didn't realize I was in for that when I picked up this book either. It's just so depressing and usually ends up bad for someone...or everyone.
Just can't recommend this one, sadly.
"Interesting past and present romances."
Has enough suspense written in, that I wasn't totally sure of what happened to Gavin. The story brought out a whole range of emotions from me...from sad to out loud laughing. I especially like the fact, that the characters weren't stupid in their relations (just carrying a lot of baggage), they caught on pretty quickly to a person's motives. All in all, a good listen...I'll be listening to it again in the future.
My sister-in-law recommended this one, and I'm so glad I listened. The beginning was a tad slow, and I wasn't sure where the plot was going, but when it picked up, I was consumed.
Perfect for readers/listeners who enjoy books with dual timelines, mystery, and a bittersweet love story.
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