Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills

Title:  The Summer Before the Storm
Author:  Gabriele Wills
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Pages:  551
Published:  2006
Publisher:  MindShadows
Source:  via Premier Virtual Authors Book Tours
Buy Link:  Amazon


Muskoka, 1914. It's the Age of Elegance in the summer playground of the affluent and powerful. Amid the pristine, island-dotted lakes, the granite cliffs, and pine-scented forests of the Canadian wilderness, the young and carefree amuse themselves with glittering balls, lavish picnics, and friendly competitions. But this summer promises to be different when the charming, 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 - including captains of industry and financial titans - he seeks opportunities and alliances to better himself, including in his schemes, his beautiful, headstrong, and audacious cousin, Victoria.
A cast of engaging characters vividly brings to life the idyllic lifestyle of endless summers on tranquil lakes. 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, genteel Muskoka to wartime Britain, regattas on the water to combat in the skies over France, extravagant mansions to deadly trenches - from innocence to nationhood.

The Summer Before The Storm, the first of "The Muskoka Novels", evokes a gracious, bygone era that still resonates in this legendary land of lakes.

Read an excerpt from the novel online at Signed books are also available from that website.

The Wyndhams have been summering in Muskoka for many years; matriarch Augusta gathers her sons and their children at the family cottage for a few months of fun.  An unexpected relative makes his presence known to the family – Jack, a long lost grandson – and son to disowned son Alexander.

As the summer progresses, the family spends time with friends – golfing, swimming, boating and dancing the days and nights away.  Each family member has their own story, which are all intertwined together.  We have James and Helena, Zoe, Jack, Victoria, Chas, Blake and many others.  Things changed as war breaks out – leaving each family member unsure of their future.

When I first saw this book pop into my inbox a few months ago, I saw the word “Muskoka” and couldn’t say no.  Being from the area it only seemed appropriate!  I was drawn into this family saga and spend hours pouring over the lives of the Wyndham’s and their friends.  The details were wonderful!

With so much information and detail, I don’t want to give too much away or spoil the story!  I’ve always loved the Muskoka lakes – Joseph, Rosseau and Muskoka.  I can’t wait to see what happens in book two of the series!

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely!  It’s a wonderful look into the life and times of the upper class in Canada pre and during WW1.  The characters were great, and engaging – I was drawn into the story so quickly!  Would I read more by this author?  Oh yes, I can’t wait for more!


  1. Thanks so much for your enthusiastic review, Aislynn. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, especially being a Muskokan! :)
    Gabriele Wills

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did! The entire trilogy is outstanding.


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