Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recommended Reading: That Summer by Lauren Willig

18404166Book 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.

Lauren Willig is most known for her Secret History of the Pink Carnation books; a comedic historical-romance series based around Napoleonic-era spies. However, in recent years she's been branching out into standalone novels with much different tones. That Summer still has its share of humor and romance, but on the whole it's a more serious book. It's intense, but it's not a whirlwind of overwrought emotions. Slimmer than the Pink Carnation books, yet with a new layer of complexity. There's something about it that's calculating, which suits its content very well. It's comprehensively researched, you get dropped right into the world of pre-Raphaelite artists, but Willig never allows the research to overwhelm the story itself. The characterization is perfect the whole way through, and you'll still be thinking about these people long after their stories are over... Be warned, the ending is shocking. Not everything turns out well.

Released last June, That Summer isn't your typical light beach read, but it's still a great choice heading into the summer months!

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