It happened slowly at first. Thread by thread, the fabric of privilege and complacency enveloping the Wyndham family began to unravel. A carefree summer at their island house, disrupted by the arrival of long lost kin, ended in tragedy, betrayal, and war.
Now, in the compelling sequel to the acclaimed epic, The Summer Before The Storm, Ria and her friends find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control. It's late summer, 1916.
While some members of the Wyndham family revel in the last resplendent days of the season at their Muskoka cottage, others continue to be drawn inexorably into the Great War, going from a world of misty sunrises across a tranquil lake to deadly moonlight bombing raids, festering trenches, and visceral terror.
For Ria, too many things have happened to hope that life would ever return to normal, that innocence could be regained. Caught in a vortex of turbulent events and emotions, she abandons the safety of the sidelines in Britain for the nightmare of France. Her fate as an ambulance driver remains entwined with those of her summer friends, all bound by a sense of duty.
Living in the shadows of fear and danger awakens the urgency to grasp life, to live more immediately, more passionately amid the enormity of unprecedented death. Together, their lives weave a tale of liberation and loss, evolution and redemption. Those who survive this cataclysmic time are forever changed, like Canada itself.
We pick up right were the story left off at the end of The Summer Before the Storm. Now if you haven’t read the first book, then some of the information in this review may be a spoiler for you! Read with caution!
Ria and Chas are on the outs. Having taken separate paths after the loss of their beloved little one, Ria decided she needs to be at the front lines, to be out doing something. Not sitting at home waiting, wondering, she needs action. I feel for these two characters, they’ve been through one disaster into another! It would shake the foundation of any relationship.
One of the things I really loved about this book was that we get a glimpse into all the lives of the characters from the first book. Where they ended up, who married who, who is still home, who has gone to war and who is still alive. We do lose a few of those wonderful characters very tragically – but I’m not naming any names!
Initially when I picked up this series it was because of where it was located. Having grown up in the Muskoka area, it was amazing to see local places I know written into the story. My own hometown is actually mentioned! Once I got into the story I was hooked, I couldn’t put the first book down, and I can easily say the same for the second. Despite the fact that it was over 500 pages, I devoured the story in just over a day. I couldn’t put my e-reader down!
Would I recommend this book? In a heart beat! I can’t tell you enough how much I adored this book and the characters it holds. I won’t give away too many details, because it could spoil not only this book but the first book for those who haven’t read it! Would I read more by this author? Oh yes, I’ve already started eyeing the 3rd book in the series and I’m itching to get my hands on it!
About the author:
Gabriele loves to recreate an era in which she can immerse herself (and readers), by weaving compelling stories around meticulously researched facts. Her characters are best friends, whom others are now calling "cherished friends". If you want a glimpse of her world, visit her book trailers on YouTube - for the first 2 Muskoka Novels and for the third.
Not being able to leave all her extensive research on the Great War behind, Gabriele has created a website of quirky facts - Odd, Intriguing, Surprising Facts About WW1 - which is being used by international researchers and educators.
Gabriele was born in Germany and emigrated to Canada as a young child. With degrees in the social sciences and education from the University of Toronto, she has had a varied career as an educator, literacy coordinator, and website designer, and has been an active community volunteer, particularly in heritage preservation. But writing fiction has always been her passion. Her first short story, "Mrs. Beresford's Disgrace", won an Honourable Mention in the Canadian Authors Association short story contest, and appears in the Winners' Circle 5 Anthology. In the fall of 2001, she produced a feature, nominated for an award, on CBC Radio's "Outfront".
Follow her blog - The Obsessed Writer - where she talks about research, writing, and life in general.
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