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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
"The Summer Before the Storm" by Gabriele Wills is initially a romantic story about seemingly kinder and gentler times. Set in the Muskoka wilderness of Canada, the Wyndham family give us a glimpse into the lavish, privileged life of the rich. There are both "old money" and "new money" families on the islands and they all appear to have a craving for whatever money can buy. In some ways, the Whydhams appear outwardly like the Downton Abbey family, who use their wealth in order to live in elegance. But, just when you think you have had about enough of 'privilege,' World War I breaks out and the reader gets a glimpse of real substance in the various family members.
The characters of Victoria, her long-lost cousin Jack and Victoria's husband Chas are particularly well teased out. And the cousins are all well developed, both in their charming characteristics and in their inherent flaws. The research into the story is sterling and it makes the story totally believable so that readers will be drawn to imagine themselves in such situations. The sinking of the Lusitania is vividly described and is an integral part of shaping events from that time forth. Readers wondering what the notion of the "Lost Generation" is all about will surely want to try their luck at understanding by reading this novel. It is beautifully written and wonderfully developed and it leaves the reader immediately searching for the sequel.