The First of “The Muskoka Novels”
Published by Mind Shadows
Released on October 19, 2006
Beginning in Muskoka, Canada in 1914, The Summer Before the Storm starts out telling the story of a well-to-do family as they endure a scandal of a disinherited son’s child audaciously inserting himself back into his family’s life through his tough grandmother. Victoria, the eldest son’s daughter, is really the main character in the story and it is told primarily through her eyes. Ria, as she is called, is daring and bold. She has been largely ignored by her father, raised without a mother, and likes to do things as she wishes.
Jack, the disinherited son’s child, takes to her immediately as a way to make sure he is kept in the family forever. He sets out to win Ria over, but the story doesn’t end there. (I won’t tell you if he succeeds, because where is the fun in that? Just know that this isn’t a predictable story.) Then, after a summer of fun and play – and halfway through the book, The Great War (World War I) strikes. The many cousins and friends we’ve come to love are of age to go to fight for England. We follow them through tragedy such as the sinking of the Lusitania and brief descriptions of the RFC and multiple battles. More and more sorrow falls on Ria while I was left crying.
Needless to say, I’ve already purchased the second book.
This isn’t a pleasant, meaningless jaunt through history. Ms. Wills skillfully weaves together fragments of history with fiction into a deep story with a plethora of events, characters, and stories to keep track. You have to settle into the novel, perhaps with a glass of wine – or a bottle, and enjoy it page-by-page. I’m normally a racer, reading quickly to get to the end as if I’m on a mission. This book is not a fast read. It is meant to be enjoyed and savored and instead of having a blatant point – such as an action film – it is more a carefully constructed drama.
And it is well worth it.
Thank you, Ms. Wills.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5! I loved it!
Gabriele was born in Germany and emigrated to Canada as a young child. With degrees in the social sciences and education from the University of Toronto, she has had a varied career as an educator, literacy coordinator, and website designer, and has been an active community volunteer, particularly in heritage preservation. But writing fiction has always been her passion. Her first short story, “Mrs. Beresford’s Disgrace”, won an Honourable Mention in the Canadian Authors Association short story contest, and appears in the Winners’ Circle 5 Anthology. In the fall of 2001, she produced a feature, nominated for an award, on CBC Radio’s “Outfront”.
|Disclosure of Material Connection: I received The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills free from Mind Shadows through the Premier Virtual Author Book Tours review program. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. The opinions I have expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”|