Series: Muskoka Trilogy #1
Publication Date: 2011 (1st published 2006)
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.
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.
Royal 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.
Bathing 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.
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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
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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.