The Summer House: A Novel
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The Summer House: A Novel

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  360 ratings  ·  71 reviews
For years, Marcia Willett has touched readers with her poignant novels about the intricacies of friendship and family. Now, in The Summer House, she explores the secrets that families keep, and the decisions, made in an instant, that can change our lives.

Matt has always felt that there was something missing in his life. His mother kept all his childhood memories in a small...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 589)
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Milo and Lottie are brother and sister-in-law who have raised Imogene and Matt when their mother Helen was unable to look after them. Matt is a successful writer, living in London,looking to fill a hole in his life, and Imogene is living near Milo and Lottie with her husband and infant daughter. Milo has a son Nick by his ex-wife and he needs a large amount of cash. Milo agrees to raise the sum of money by selling the Summer House, a small property attached to the main house, to Imogene and her...more
I loved the idea of the main premise, but it didn't fulfill it's promise. It just danced on the surface of the characters thoughts & ideas; it stayed very one dimensional. I got none of the feelings needed to really connect with any of the characters. It really needed to go deeper on many levels, and I think if it had it definitely would have not only kept the original promise, but surpassed it. I had figured out what was going on before the end, but I'm not sure if that's what the author ha...more
Not what I was expecting at all, and not in a good way. Where was the intrigue, suspense and the mystery?

The memory box is hardly mentioned in the first 3/4 of the book, so you spend most of the time waiting for something interesting to happen... not that it ever really does.

There is a mix of convoluted characters that are very insipid and boring, and add no real depth to the book at all. The author tries to explain the relationships between the characters as if this is an important part of th...more
Still a fluff book, but a step higher than The Great Escape. The writing is a little wooden, and the plot is both contrived and predictable, but it's an enjoyable book, maybe because Willett seems to believe so whole-heartedly in what she writes about: the healing power of the English countryside and family love, even (especially) if that family is patched together. She introduces WAY too many characters whose relationships are far too complex in far too casual a way at the start (Tom was the au...more
Ugh...I finished it. I could not stay with the beginning and my mind kept on wandering. I couldn't keep the people straight and thought that it might be a tool the author was using for a big reveal. was just a false attempt at such I think. I have no idea how I got into it enough to finish it. It had some charming parts but really it was, well, meh.

Furthermore, the author kept on interjecting strange words for verbs...or just using them out of place. I'm sure some would say that is beca...more
The first couple of pages of this book didn't grab me, so I set it aside for a couple of weeks. Once I got into the story, however, I was charmed by the characters and the setting and finished the book quite quickly. The central plot contains a mystery that I didn't find very mysterious; it includes 3 different elements, one of which I guessed when it was first referenced, and the other two before the book ended. I don't know if Willett's intention was for readers to understand these plot elemen...more
Laura Beasley
Dec 07, 2013 Laura Beasley rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Mary Ann
First book by this author and not sure if I will read any more by her. Different story and was rather depressing. The characters in the book were all different and guess you could say mostly dysfunctional. Most strange folks. The book drug but for some reason it kept me curious about what was going to happen. Could not figure out where the story was going. The relationship between Milo and Lottie was strange as well as the relationship between Milo and Venetia. Then there was nick and all his pr...more
It was okay. After Matt's mother dies, Matt, the main character, is trying to find out why he feels as if something has always been missing in his life and why he can not make emotional connections with anyone outside his family. Things don't start to make sense to him until very late in the book. I was wondering what was going to happen since I was quickly running out of pages to read. Then all of these coincidences occur and things fall into place for Matt. In my opinion, the coincidences were...more
Beth B
"Matt has always felt that there was something missing in his life. His mother kept all his childhood memories in a small inlaid wooden box, along with many photos of Matt as a child. But something about these photos has always puzzled Matt. Why doesn't he remember those clothes? The toys? And where, in the photos, is his sister Imogen?"

I really couldn't get into this book. In the beginning I had trouble keeping track of the characters and their relationships. I found them all a little bland. So...more
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Fans of Pilcher will like this author, but it is very annoying that St. Martin's keeps changing her UK titles to banal interchangeable ones. Be careful not to buy a book you already own!

In this book, nothing much happens - Matt is haunted by a barely remembered childhood and agonizes about becoming involved with a young woman he barely likes - I assume a sequel is forthcoming.
Kristy Trauzzi
This book went no where. It didn't even have a good "following someone's life" story that I am usually a total sucker for. I was bored by the almosts and the what ifs and just felt myself going COME ON SOMETHING HAPPEN! Sigh.It was horrible.
Half way through and this just isn't holding my attention...
kept reading hoping it got better. Didnt. dont bother
4 Blue Ribbon Review courtesy of Romance Junkies. Matt and Imogen's childhood was difficult, dealing with their mother's depression and alcoholism, but they never understood her until Matt follows the clues left behind after her death. Surrounded by good friends who love them like their own children, Imogene and Matt have much to be grateful for, but will they realize that in time to set their future as adults on the right path?

Matt inherited a treasure box of his mother's, which contains all th...more
Matt, who has written a best-selling novel, is plagued with insecurities and often feels disorientated. His sister Imogen is not entirely happy in her marriage, and their friend Nick is decidedly unhappy with his. Nick's father Milo wants to sell a small house he has been renting out, and would like it to remain with one of his loved ones...

There are a lot of sub-plots and a large cast in this book, and it took me a while to sort them all out. It's written in Marcia Willett's usual warm style,...more
Joanne D'arcy
Matt has been left a small box where his late mother kept memories of his childhood. He remembers vividly putting small items into the box and locking them securely away. But opening the box not long after his mother's death, Matt sees what is inside in a different light. Teh photographs evoke memories but not that he can recall, he cannot remember the clothes, the toys, the background is wrong and where is his sister Imogen? Matt recognises something is wrong but he cannot focus his mind to wha...more
Three and a half stars for me: likable characters (as usual the most interesting characters are beyond the flush of youth). In this book they are Lottie and Milo, who have lived together for years as brother and sister, and Milo's lover, the formerly glamorous and still flirtatious-at-70 Venetia. The main characters, however, are Imogen, who longs to buy the summer house she has loved since childhood, improvident Nick (Milo's son) who is ready to trade in his difficult wife for Imogen, and Imoge...more
This was a good one for the "summer/beach read" stack. Marcia Willett is often compared to Rosamunde Pilcher, and perhaps in some ways they are similar (genre, family settings, atmosphere/location)... but if you come to Willett's books expecting them to be as good as a Pilcher novel, you will probably be disappointed. I recommend letting go of that comparison and enjoying them for what they are. I have not loved all of Marcia Willett's books, but The Summer House was a nice, light read. Just wha...more
Louisa Ielo
Could have been more exciting...too many characters with their personal issues taking the reader in directions that didn't have a lot or much to do with the plot-line. I found myself a bit confused even at times. And the way it was written in a constant leap-frogging combination of present and past perhaps kept the book from building forward in intensity.
Anne Slater
So first off I have to say I WANT THE PAINTING that makes up the cover of the book! Looks like Matisse.

The book sat around for nearly 2 weeks before I got to it, but once I did, it took all of 1 solid day to work through is. Carefully so as not to confuse the characters, to savor their inter-relationships, the delicacy with which Willett connects old non-lovers, old shouldn't-be/not-quite lovers, verging-on-break-up couples, siblings, and evocative ghosts from the past.

Well written, well plotted...more
I liked the story and the characters. Would like to read more of what happens after the end.
Kathryn Sim
Another easy read, with a story that drew me in. Finished it in days!
I liked the story... Very descriptive though..
Linda K
Loving England as I do, it is simply divine to read stories from this author. The settings are so endearing with descriptions of the land, the homes, the animals and plant life, teatimes and so much more.

Continuing with characters you know from part books is like re-uniting with old friends. Though they are not all likeable, they are all written about with great attention to molding their personalities for our reading pleasure.

Like a breath of fresh air for one who longs to return there.
I'm a big fan of Marcia Willett. Her books are pleasurable and comfortable in the way of family dinners. You aren't going to like every one at the table & no doubt someone is going to get drunk & spout off but at the end of the day they ARE family & you love them anyway.
One doesn't read Marcia's books expecting them to be anything more than they are and I, for one, find them(for the most part), enchanting. They take me out of my head & give me a glimpse of a more peaceful life.
I liked this simple story. It may not have had a big plot and diverse characters but for a summer read it fit the bill. I enjoyed the family dynamic and the genuine love they had for each other. The ending was a bit predictable but I really didn't mind. The characters where enjoyable, and likable and I found myself cheering for them when things went their way. A bit mushy and predictable but again It was a fun summer read.
This was a very pleasant read, but not up to par with some of my favorite Marcia Willett books (THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, for one). The characters were engaging and I enjoyed the storyline, but it felt the slightest bit stilted compared to her other stuff. As an aside, I guessed the twist almost immediately -- this didn't spoil the story, but there you have it.
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Marcia Willett began her career as a novelist when she was fifty years old. Since that first novel Marcia has written twenty more under her own name as well as a number of short stories. She has also written four books under the pseudonym "Willa Marsh", and is published in more than sixteen countries.

Marcia Willett's early life was devoted to the ballet, but her dreams of becoming a ballerina end...more
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