The fortunes of a poor English woman named Emily Dawson shift in 1854 when her wealthy grandfather leaves her a sugar plantation in Barbados. When she finds the property in ruins due to an 1816 slave uprising, she must discover why her practical-minded grandfather would leave her such a strange inheritance and why the neighboring plantation owners are so eager to acquire the property.
The Summer Country is a well-crafted, smartly entwined story that is worthy of your time from the first page to the satisfying conclusion. Even Willig’s author’s note is compelling. Willig’s witty voice and poignant style shine throughout the book. With keen observations and nimble writing, she lets readers experience her characters’ emotions, regrets and the range of human feelings.
Some authors have trouble keeping readers invested in multiple time periods, but Ms. Willig manages to imbue both stories with enough intrigue, romance, and historical detail to keep readers completely enthralled ... both timelines contain strong romantic elements, making it a book that will appeal to fans of the author’s previous works ... The pacing is wonderful and I found myself flying through the story, both eager to reach the end and unwilling to say goodbye to these characters at the same time. It’s an odd dichotomy that doesn’t occur very often, but for me, it’s the mark of a truly fantastic book. If you love large, sprawling novels rich with enough historical detail to make the setting itself feel like a character in the story, you won’t want to miss The Summer Country.
Willig’s exceptional research into the period and her skill at drawing characters shines on every page. She doesn’t shy away from the realities of slavery, and carefully depicts both the oppressed and the oppressor ... Not always a comfortable read, but a compelling one, this book is appropriate for readers who like complex family dramas in exotic locations.