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Summer in the South

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,640 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
Cathy Holton, author of the popular Beach Trip, returns with an intriguing and mysterious tale of dark deeds and family secrets in a small Southern town.

After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn
Kindle Edition, 353 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 29, 2011 Doreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sally, Diane, Iris, Laura, Cathy, Sara
Recommended to Doreen by: won it here, on Goodreads!
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. What a fascinating book! The story begins in Tennessee, in the 1930's. It centers on a particularly wealthy, WASP family, who has lived in the area for many generations. This family is the picture of the old South: perfect manners, unwavering hospitality, and proud pedigree. Of course there's always the flip side to these old Southern aristocrats: illegitimate children, underhanded business dealings, and secrets about members referred to as 'black sh ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Grace rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2011 Cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The more I read, the more I disliked the main character of Ava. I ended up skimming the book just so I didn't have to spend any more time with her.
George King
I was sent a copy of this book, even though I didn't enter a giveaway contest. I was not familiar with the author, but I'm always open to new reading experiences.

Let me say first that Holton has talent as a writer. She describes characters and settings well and has an eye for detail. The atmosphere she creates in describing the small Southern town and the Woodburn estate is authentic and interesting. The premise of the novel is simple enough: Ava, who lives in Chicago, is invited by an old colle
Jun 24, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
** I won this book through Goodreads First Reads**

This book was a great representation of the pride and honor that the older generation in the south take in their family heritage. As I read I could imagine the characters sitting on the veranda enjoying totty time. I could picture the streets lined with trees. I could see the weeping willows swaying in the breeze... I truly enjoyed the mystery that was intertwined within this novel. Without giving too much away I can honestly say that I was kept
MaryannC.Book Fiend
An awesome book! One of the best books I have read. Loved all the elements of this story, an old, wealthy southern family with secrets,betrayal,the main character Ava who is trying to uncover the truth. All the good stuff that makes up an excellent book. I was hooked and I couldnt put it down.
You wont be disappointed.
May 28, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure why this book has so many high ratings. To me, it dragged on. The main male character, Will, was brooding and unlikeable. The female character isn't all that special either. It was just blah.
Susan Coster
This started off as being a typical Southern fluff book but as the story progressed, it had me intrigued and quite riveted. Ava is a Chicago gal who is disgruntled by a love affair gone wrong. A college friend, Will, invites her to fictional Woodburn, TN, where time has stood still for generations. Ava is determined to write her first novel but has trouble getting her writing started...staying in the Woodburn family home, she learns many secrets, and thus, the story begins. A murder, a love affa ...more
Mar 18, 2012 Maggie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 27, 2012 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a fan of southern fiction, I had to give this one a try. I had a stack of books in my TBR pile, but this one caught and held my attention from the first page. The author does a great job of capturing the uniqueness of a southern small town (waving at everyone you see, revealing one's life story in line at the grocer). However, I never could find myself rooting for Ava. She seemed nosy, blunt and cold to me. Actually, I think this is the way southerners tend to view many non-southerners. It ...more
Jun 15, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summer in the South tells the story about Ava. Everything in Ava's life seems to be going wrong all at the same time so when Will, an old friend from college, throws her a lifeline by inviting her to stay with his great-aunts in their house in the southern city of Woodburn. She goes there in hopes of finally working on and completely a novel. Once there she stumbles upon a family secret which no one will talk about. An idea sparks in her mind and a novel takes form as she tells the story of what ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summer in the South: A Novel by Cathy Holton is a simmering summer read filled with romance and intrigue about long-buried pasts. Following the death of her mother, Ava joins a college friend, Will, at his ancestral home in Tennessee where he lives with two elderly aunts. In addition to coming to terms with her tumultuous relationship with her mother, Ava is looking for some time away to work on a novel. She did not, however, expect to find such rich content for her novel right in the home in wh ...more
Shellys♥ Journal
Jul 27, 2012 Shellys♥ Journal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, year-2012
Ava has professional success at a Chicago advertising firm, but not much personally. Now college friend,Will Fraser invites her to come south for the summer and work on her dream novel while living with his aunts in an historic southern mansion. As she learns more about Will's family, she sees a mystery that is weaving its way into her novel, a mystery the family doesn't want solved or revealed. Will she find the answers?

I started reading this thinking it would be a light chick lit kind of book
Aug 02, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A first time read for this author, I enjoyed the story set in the South. I always love stories in this setting for some reason. This one is set in a small town near Nashville called Woodburn. I personally think it is really Franklin, TN where my husband and I have visited on a trip to see my grandson in Nashville. Franklin is a small town with so much history especially Civil War. From the author's descriptions of the town, it could very well be Franklin.

The main character, Ava, finds herself tr
"Summer in the South" was awesome...I didn't want to put this book down. I even kept trying to sneak and read it at work, it was so good. Ava Dabrowski is so over her life and horrible love life so when Will Fraser, an old college friend of hers, extends to her the opportunity to come down south for the summer and work on her novel, she jumps at the chance. After all, how often do you get to live in a "writer's like colony" for FREE! But, when she gets to Woodburn, she soon discovers that everyt ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the book while I was on vacation in Florida and I finished the book rather quickly lounging by the pool. I enjoyed the way the history of the Woodburns was incorporated in the story and it helped me follow the storyline better. There was a little romance, mystery, humor, intrigue and a little paranormal all rolled up in a great novel. All the characters were developed fully and they interacted well together. I got a kick out of the two great Aunts Josephine and Fanny and the way they inte ...more
Jun 08, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title really sets the stage for the basic premise of this story. Ava leaves behind a failed relationship and stale job at the invite of an old college friend to stay with his aunts for the summer to work on the novel she has always wanted to write. She hasn't seen Will Fraser for years, and remembers teasing him about the small southern town he hailed from while in college. Aunts Fanny and Josephine greet Ava with true southern hospitality while Uncle Maitland mans the bar at Toddy Time ever ...more
Jul 15, 2011 Debra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow and sultry as a southern summer, this book is full of Southern Gothic. Ava flees her bizarre past to try to write as a houseguest, not really expecting to be intrigued by the equally bizarre and mysterious past of her hosts.

The first half of the book was difficult for me to get interested in. Despite enjoying Holton's previous books, part of me was voting for giving up. Once the scene was laboriously set, however, elements fall into place. I really did enjoy the last half of the book. (And
Debbie Maskus
Holton presents many of the Southern clichés in this story: the language, the sweet tea, the class distinction, the eccentric characters, and the lifestyle. Many times these props are too time worn and not innovative. The story centers on a young woman from Chicago spending the summer in Tennessee to write a novel. The language and fluency of the novel flow easily and compel the reader. I feel that Holton does not tie up all the threads of the story. Many stories are started and then left hangin ...more
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
At first I loved this book! Later I wanted to throw it across the room. We meet Ava and learn she is at wit's end about her job in Chicago, the death of her mother, her love life and unfulfilled promise as a writer. Given the chance to spend a few months in the deep south at the historic home of a male college friend, she accepts. Little does she realize that Will Fraser belongs to the upper echelon of society in Woodburn, Tennessee. Staying with his Woodburn aunts (yes, the town is named after ...more
I must get this off my chest, being from the south and growing up in Tennessee myself, it was a bit annoying that the writer used the phrase "down here" in repetitive dialect describing the south. It isn't like that. ... Anyway
The delicate relationships of southern beings and their secrets dance throughout the pages. Being so nosey about family history (or at least mine) I loved that Ava stuck her nose in where it didn't belong. I will say though she was annoying as well. her curiosity betrayed
Terri White
Sometimes you have a book that you just cannot put down, and you finish it way too fast because you are enjoying it that much. This was not one of those books. The story was fine - but I really never grew to like any of the characters. The main character, Ava, is invited by an old college friend, Will, to board with his elderly aunts while she writes her novel. I was so frustrated because it was obvious that Will wanted more than friendship from Ava, but Ava was not interested in that. The fact ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Stacy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book had great potential, but lacked a completed development of the characters. Will was weak and pouty. Ava was selfish and ungrateful. The plot kept switching back and forth, so it was impossible to decide what this book really was about. And then Ms. Holton at the end never resolved anything and that is a minus in my book. I could relate to some of the Southern-isms having lived there myself as a yankee. But I was overall disappointed.
Heather L
Jul 17, 2011 Heather L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, first-reads, 2011
** A copy of this book was won from the author through a book blog **

I was drawn to this novel by both the premise and the fact that the author claims to have been inspired to write it after visiting an old cemetery. I have long loved visiting old cemeteries and often thought them rich in untold stories. I was not disappointed in this book, and found it a fast and engaging novel--which would account for reading it in about a day and a half.
Apr 25, 2014 Debdanz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love a great Southern novel; unfortunately this was NOT one! Maybe if Cathy Holton could have made up her mind about what she was writing- historical fiction, gothic romance, mystery, general fiction. In her attempt to be all of them, she achieved none of them. Setting was well done, characters boring and too shallow to enjoy any of them. Bummer.
Feb 24, 2013 Kayla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not one to quit even if it's terrible, I forced myself through this book. The characters suck, are terribly developed, and inconsistent. I knew I should have put this book down after the author referred to something as "jaunty." When I finished I saw that the author attended Michigan State University for Creative Writing and that made me even more sad :(
Sep 21, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally enjoyed this novel. It was complete with romance, intrigue, ghosts and a wonderful setting of a small town in the south.
Nancy Wilkinson
Dec 23, 2015 Nancy Wilkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a great family story! Talk about dysfunctional families...

But, of course, things are not always what they seem, and in the interests of protecting the family's reputation, Josephine et al closed ranks, buttoned their lips, and went on with their lives. Except...

And so the next generation is burdened with the same rules of family secrecy, and this time the secrets are bigger than reality. This book is about finding the way back to reality and dealing with that and life as it is, not as
Mar 19, 2015 Dt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wish this book could've made up its mind what it wanted to be...a romance, a ghost story, or a mystery whodunit. I don't think the author was sure either so the story went all over the place in so many different directions that there was no way to successfully answer all the many questions posed:

***Spoiler Alert****

1) Why was Will so invested in this woman coming to his home town when their college friendship had turned to distant acquaintance at best?

2) Once it became clear to Will that Ava d
Summer in the South by Cathy Holton is a tough book for me to review. Overall, I found Ms. Holton to be a strong storyteller. Her descriptions of settings and characters are vivid. I was engaged in this book, which is a strong testament to Ms. Holton's talent, because I strongly dislike the protagonist, Ava. Without giving away too much of the plot, Ava is a 20-something woman who is a guest of a friend and his family for an entire summer. She's been given room, board and emotional support so th ...more
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Cathy Holton continues to entertain readers with her stories of strong, intelligent women trying to survive in an often hostile world. The Boston Globe says “Holton has a lively, fluid style that shifts easily among the viewpoints’ of several characters and goes down as easily as sweet tea,” while Entertainment Weekly calls her prose “Sharp, witty, and warm.”

Although grateful for the critical pra
More about Cathy Holton...

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“I can’t just open myself up the way some people can. And down here, you’re raised a certain way. You’re taught to keep some things private, family matters especially. It’s just the way it’s done."

"Everyone worships the past but no one really wants to talk about it.”
“Everyone has a different story, and you have to ask yourself what motivates people to see reality the way they do.” 4 likes
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