The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Published June 4, 2019 by William Morrow
Goodreads Summary: The New York Times bestselling historical novelist delivers her biggest, boldest, and most ambitious novel yet—a sweeping, dramatic Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.
1854. From Bristol to Barbados. . . .
Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous merchant clan—merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheiritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados—a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.
When Emily accompanies her cousin and his new wife to Barbados, she finds Peverills a burnt-out shell, reduced to ruins in 1816, when a rising of enslaved people sent the island up in flames. Rumors swirl around the derelict plantation; people whisper of ghosts.
Why would her practical-minded grandfather leave her a property in ruins? Why are the neighboring plantation owners, the Davenants, so eager to acquire Peverills—so eager that they invite Emily and her cousins to stay with them indefinitely? Emily finds herself bewitched by the beauty of the island even as she’s drawn into the personalities and politics of forty years before: a tangled history of clandestine love, heartbreaking betrayal, and a bold bid for freedom.
When family secrets begin to unravel and the harsh truth of history becomes more and more plain, Emily must challenge everything she thought she knew about her family, their legacy . . . and herself.
Review: I read and really enjoyed Lauren Willig’s book The English Wife last year so I was excited that I got a review copy of her most recent novel, The Summer Country, from the publisher for review. I’ve really been in the mood for historical fiction this year so it came at the perfect time too. The book alternates between 1854 and 1812-1816. Emily arrives in Barbados in 1854 to claim the plantation her grandfather left her. While there, she meets Mrs. Davenant who grew up and owns the neighboring plantation. As Emily gets the lay of the land and learns more about her plantation, Peverills, we as readers learn more about the past and who Emily really is. As the story continues, more and more is revealed that tie the past in with Emily’s present. There were a few twists that I did not see coming but completely made the story great. The writing was incredibly vivid which made it really easy to envision everything from the scenery to the characters to the major events that occurred. There were some really great characters in this book. I loved the banter between Emily and Nathaniel. My heart broke for Charles and Jenny. Because of the setting and time, you may have already guessed but I will say that this book does involve slavery so be prepared for that. Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be on the lookout to read more from Lauren Willig in the future.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.