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That Summer: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Lauren Willig
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.99
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

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...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 sixteen 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 readers 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.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Julia inherits her great-aunt’s house in Herne Hill, outside London, it’s a good time for her to take a break from New York, where she has no work or romantic ties. Returning to England, however, brings up suppressed memories of her dead mother and childhood, and while sorting through the home’s myriad belongings, Julia uncovers a mysterious painting that not only played a significant role in her family’s story but also in art history. We learn that Julia’s ancestor, Imogen, came to Herne Hill as a young bride in 1849 and became trapped in a passionless, childless marriage. When her husband hires a young artist to paint her portrait, he and Julia have an ill-fated affair. Popular novelist Willig (The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, 2013) weaves together Julia’s and Imogen’s stories and further enriches the tale with details about the Pre-Raphaelite movement, gleaned from Julia’s involvement with Nicholas, an enigmatic antiques dealer. Willig’s latest is a smart blend of historical romance and contemporary self-discovery story. --Aleksandra Walker

About the Author

LAUREN WILLIG is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Pink Carnation series and a RITA Award-winner for Best Regency Historical for The Mischief of the Mistletoe. A graduate of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in English history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1501 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (June 3, 2014)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,815 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful escapism and good fun! April 12, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been a fan of Gothic novels since I was barely into my teens. For me, it wasn't the romance of the story, but the (often) spooky mansion and the treasures it almost always had tucked away. I must've been in the perfect mood for a return to the Gothic because I fell into That Summer and sank with scarcely a trace.

The old house, Herne Hill, comes up trumps in Willig's story. It's chock-a-block with all sorts of treasures, and when Julia attempts to discover what that big old piece of furniture is hiding, her channeling Nancy Drew and muttering about "the mystery of the old wardrobe" made me laugh. The alternating timelines are also well done. Usually one timeline will be much stronger than the other, but not here. There's too much that needs explanation in Julia's past for it to take a backseat, although I will admit that the 1849 story concerning the always fascinating Pre-Raphaelites does have a tiny bit of an edge.

There are a few stock characters in That Summer; it's hard not to have them in a Gothic novel, but they are limited to a couple of minor characters. The pairs of lovers (or wannabes)-- Imogen and Gavin, Julia and Nicholas-- come close to being perfect. It's fun to read and attempt to deduce the motivations for their behavior. The romance aspect is also very well done: there's enough for romance readers to sigh happily and wish for a little more while not antagonizing those who prefer little-to-no throbbing hearts in their fiction.

Humor, romance, a good brush with creepy characters and situations now and again, secret hiding places, art treasures, and an old house with a story to tell.... If you're in the mood, then I know the book to recommend: Lauren Willig's That Summer.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough... June 17, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a format that's getting a bit long in the tooth: the dual-narrative novel, in which the main character unearths a mystery or a puzzle, and then a backstory, set in the past, explains to us, the reader, what is going on, even as the protagonist in the main novel is figuring out for herself. Kate Morton has done it; Deborah Lawrenson used the device in "The Lantern", as did Susanna Kearsley in "The Firebird", Kate Mosse in "Labyrinth", and so on. The format risks becoming formulaic...

In this novel by Lauren Willig, the main story is set in 2009, when unemployed consultant Julia Conley unexpectedly inherits a house in London from a great-aunt whose existence she doesn't even recall; after her mother's sudden and tragic death, her father had moved her across the Atlantic to start afresh in New York. Now the house is Julia's -- and in it, she soon discovers a Pre-Raphaelite painting that seems to be linked to a portrait of a woman who is an ancestor on the wall of the sitting room downstairs. Zooom, and back we go in time to the 1840s, and the subject of that painting, Imogen Grantham, who is unhappily marrried but lives to see her stepdaughter more happily settled in life. When her husband begins patronizing a circle of Pre-Raphaelite painters, her own life becomes brighter, but her stepdaughter may be put at risk.

The problem with these novels is making both halves work well. In this case, the contemporary part of the story was a nice little love story, complete with misunderstandings and a quest to discover the story behind the paintings, with some less than amiable relatives muddying the waters a bit.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Recently downsized financial analyst Julia was surprised to be notified that she had inherited a house in England from her Aunt Regina Ashe. She didn’t remember an Aunt Regina. Julia and her surgeon father had immigrated to New York shortly after her mother’s death when Julia was a child. Nothing was ever said about their early years in England – or any family there. Her father suggests she head to England, sort through Regina’s belongings, and sell the house.

Julia’s cousin Natalie met her at the house on her arrival and offered to help sort through Aunt Regina’s household. At first, Julia preferred to look through alone, but welcomed some assistance. While wandering through the house shortly after she arrived, Julia comes face-to-face with a beautiful painting of A woman sitting in a garden – and looking lost or sad. She has a strange feeling about the painting, and the woman depicted so expertly.

Saturday cousin Natalie arrived prepared to help – and with the assistance of her brother and his friend Nicholas Dorrington, a local shop owner and expert in antiques. Nicholas has been brought along to help evaluate the antiques and provide guidance on their value in preparation for selling them. One of those antiques was an armoire with a false back – and a hidden Pre-Rafaelite painting by the same artist who painted the woman.

That Summer moves smoothly between the 1850’s and 2009, providing a history of the paintings and their significance via research by Nicholas and Julia. The reader is treated to the romance behind the paintings in segments interleaved with their developing 2009 romance, implying a parallel between the two.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great author....keep the books coming.....
I have all of this authors books, like her style of writing, keeps one interested, waiting for her book to come out .
Published 4 days ago by Nancy Sawyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
Really like the intertwining of the the current day story with the historical one. While it would have been nice to have more conclusive narratives to both stories, it was still a... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Cerry Letrich
5.0 out of 5 stars imaginative weaving of time & place.
Always enjoy Ms Willig's work and especially like her new focus on more nuanced insightful characters. Great mystery with a satisfying solution.
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love it. Just what I wanted at a great price.
Published 2 months ago by Gina
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect to read on a cold day!
2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tonya Speelman
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner!
A change from her other series but I liked it just as much. I'm a big fan of hers and intend to continue reading every book she publishes.
Published 2 months ago by SEP
5.0 out of 5 stars I just loved this book and it's no surprise since I love ...
I just loved this book and it's no surprise since I love every other book that Willig has done! If you enjoy historical fiction with a bit of mystery, then this book is a great... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Misha D.
4.0 out of 5 stars Rating: 4 - Tony Nominee
Original Review Link: [...]

I will read anything that Lauren Willig writes. I mean it can be about a chipmunk who wants to be an astronaut and I’m sure it would be... Read more
Published 2 months ago by As Dreams Are Made
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Recent choice for my book club. General concensus was that the historical sections were well researched. A lot of discussion on plot twists. Will read other books by this author.
Published 3 months ago by D. Alderman
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
Lauren Willig continues to charm. Continuing to weave past and present, engaging characters and enjoyable story telling ,it is her familiar format, refreshed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
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More About the Author

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her "Pink Carnation" series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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