June 11, 2014

That Summer by Lauren Willig: Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

It's Wednesday! Time for another giveaway! (And don't forget that last week's giveaway is still open through tonight!)

That Summer is set in two different worlds.

The first is 1849, where Imogen Grantham has been trapped in a loveless marriage for nearly 10 years. She's resigned to her dull life in Herne Hill, just outside London, until her husband commissions an up-and-coming young artist, Gavin Thorne, to paint her portrait. Gavin's presence in Imogen's life will soon change everything.

In 2009, Julia Conley's great-aunt dies and leaves her a house in Herne Hill. Although Julia has avoided England since her mother's death, she can't turn down such an enormous gift. There, behind a fake panel at the back of a wardrobe, Julia discovers a gorgeous painting of Tristan and Isolde. She asks an antiques expert--the charming and handsome Nick--to authenticate it, and he agrees that it appears to be from the mid-19th century. Nick and Julia start researching the painting, and decide that it was possibly painted by a little-known member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle: Gavin Thorne.

Willig (The Ashford Affair; The Passion of the Purple Plumeria) returns to stand-alone historical fiction, slipping nimbly from the 19th century to the almost-present day and back again as the stories of Imogen and Julia unfold. Although Imogen and Julia live very differently (both because of their circumstances and their eras), they share a desperation to change their lives and a connection to the same house in Herne Hill. Woven throughout are fascinating tidbits about Victorian life and the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Fans of historical fiction combined with a bit of romance and mystery will appreciate That Summer's time-jumping tale. My only quibble, which is silly really, is that the word "slaphappy" got way overused. I feel like Willig should have hit a thesaurus.

Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure! She'll probably love it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

To enter to win a copy of THAT SUMMER, leave a comment letting me know what you wish YOUR mysterious great-aunt would leave you.

Details: The giveaway will be open through 6/18/14. I'll randomly choose a comment, and contact the winner for their mailing details -- US addresses only please. If you subscribe via email, you'll have to click through to comment. The post contains a few of my affiliate links. I originally wrote part of this review for Shelf Awareness. And I asked St. Martin's Press to provide a copy of the book for one of you, but I wasn't paid or perked for my review.

Hint: Next week's giveaway is an audiobook that I think a lot of you will love! I'm so excited, make sure you check back next Wednesday!

UPDATE: The winner is commenter #4 - Amanda! Congrats Amanda, I'll be contacting you.