Monday, November 19, 2012

The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills ~ Review & Giveaway

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Muskoka Trilogy #1
Publication Date: 2011 (1st published 2006)
Pages: 556 
Book Source: Virtual Author Book Tours

Synopsis: 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 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."This richly textured tale takes the reader on an unforgettable journey from romantic moonlight cruises to the horrific sinking of the Lusitania, from regattas on the water to combat in the skies over France, from extravagant mansions to deadly trenches - from innocence to nationhood.The Summer Before The Storm, the first of the epic "Muskoka Novels," evokes a gracious, bygone era that still resonates in this legendary land of lakes.

My Thoughts:
I was completely immersed in this epic generational tale set in idyllic Muskoka, 1914 before the onset of WWI. As a fan of Downton Abbey and with my son heading from Australia to Banff, Canada in a few days’ time it seemed fitting to be reading The Summer Before the Storm. Yeah I know, not even close proximity, but the same country qualifies when you're the other side of the world lol. Canadian history is not something I've read a lot of so it was really lovely to spend time in Muskoka with the Wyndham family and Wyndwood

Gabriele conveys time and place with an eloquence befitting the era. The languid atmosphere, indulgent, privileged lifestyle, the scenic beauty of Lake Rosseau and the island, home to The Grand Muskoka, the lavish 'cottages', the chasm between the haves and the have nots. 

Public DomainRoyal Muskoka Hotel dining room - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite
the author used this as a basis for The Grand Muskoka Hotel

As clichéd as it probably sounds the author's vivid descriptions and impeccable research transported me there, feeling much like a friend of the family, relishing in that glorious summer then anxiously observing the Canadian involvement in WWI. Gabriele uses accounts from actual survivors of the sinking of the Lusitania and experiences of real pilots in the Royal Flying Corps to give scenes heartbreaking authenticity. 

The cast of many made for fascinating reading, the Wyndham family & Thornton’s, Carrington’s & Carlyle’s. Getting so caught up in their lives, I really didn't have trouble keeping track, but the author's character list at the start of the book was handy.

Controlling, haughty matriarch Augusta Wyndham, daughter-in-law Olivia, incorrigible granddaughter Victoria & goodnatured Zoe, pushing accepted boundaries of their time, cousin Beatrice, grandson Jack, ambitious and scheming but still so likeable, the delicious Chas Thornton, quietly protective Justin Carrington. Too many to mention more but what a melting pot of personalities. I loved getting to know them, warts and all.

Public DomainBathing Beauties - Credit: Frank W. Micklethwaite/ Library and Archives Canada
can you imagine? no wonder skinny dipping became popular

The Summer Before the Storm is a keeper on my bookshelf, 55o pages flew by effortlessly and I can't wait to see what's in store for us with book 2, Elusive Dawn. The last book in the trilogy Under the Moon is also available now. 

Find Gabriele on Facebook or her Blog or follow her on Twitter and the Muskoka Novels website has some equally fascinating reading. 

See Tour Schedule

One copy of the book in print or on kindle/kobi. Winner in the U.S. or Canada will receive their choice of print or ebook. International winner will receive the ebook version.
Just leave a comment or question along with your email address

Extra Entries: 
+ 2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Giveaway ends 30th November and winner will be announced on my blog. 
Good luck everyone!

Thanks to Gabriele and Teddyrose of Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for my copy of The Summer Before the Storm. 


  1. Don't count me in for the giveaway but this setting for the story sounds so good.

  2. I'm also a Downton Abbey fan, and this book sounds fascinating. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Wow!!! This sounds really GOOD!! Thanks for the chance!!!!

  4. What a wonderful review! And I love the fact that your giveaway is international - now there is a chance for me too :) All the best from Anette

  5. Thank you so much for your thoughtful review! I'm delighted that you enjoyed spending time with my "friends"! :)
    Gabriele Wills

  6. This fascinating novel beckons me. I would love to read it since I am Canadian, have been to the Muskoka area and love the era in which the book is written. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Canadian Historical Fiction, particularly this book intrigues me greatly. The setting, characters and the period is wonderful. Thanks for this great giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  8. thanks for the giveaway


  9. Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

  10. Your review captivated me! I'd love to enter! I tweeted it, too. :) xjt(dot)pilot(at)rocketmail(dot)com

  11. Glad you liked it a lot too. And love the old time pictures in your post.

  12. Lovely review, Sheree! This does sound like a book I'd enjoy. And yes, I now have a better understanding of the skinny dipping fad! ;-)

  13. This book sounds terrific and great review. It really sounds like my kind of book. Your son will love Banff. It's beautiful there this time of year although cold.

  14. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  15. I love the review. Just added this to my wish list.

    Lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  16. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book:)


  17. I would like to thank you so much for a really facinating post and a wonderful book giveaway, that i would love to have the oportunity of reading! I am a huge fan of historical fiction and find unearthing the past interesting and facinating to read about, and this book sounds great! I am a UK resident so i am presuming that my name would be put forwards (if possible) for the e-copy. Thank you for this chance and i do hope to be able to read, review and spread the word about the authors work. x

    Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk
    *UK Resident*

  18. Sounds interesting! :)

  19. Do you have a degree in writing?? Your reviews are some of the best written that I have ever read!! I loved the sound of this one...will be adding it to my stack for sure!

  20. This sounds really good and now that I think about it I don't really know Canadian history either. Have you been to Canada we went to the rockies (doing the loop from Vancouver up to Banff) way back in 2006. Was so great.

    I might put my hand up for the ebook copy please :)

  21. Looks like a fascinating book. Interesting review. Thanks for the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com


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