Summer in February
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Summer in February

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  60 reviews
While making a speech attacking modern art, Sir Alfred Munnings is taken back 40 years to a special time and place. Major Evans, listening to him on the radio, is also flooded with memories, and wonders how everything changed in both their lives.
Paperback, 356 pages
Published February 1st 1996 by Little, Brown Book Group (first published 1995)
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I loved reading this book. The older I get the more I notice whether I pick up a book because I think the subject is interesting or whether I like the writing style and won't be able to put it down. Summer in February is a perfect example of why one should never have to choose between the two. The format isn't 100% linear and Smith never has to spell out the obvious pieces. He trusts the reader with the plot and characters- clearly a well structured book. Still, it is highly readable, with brief...more
This is a beautifully written book about real people and gives a fascinating insight into the Cornish art community of the 1920's. The author deals with a tragic situation very sympathetically. This isn't the sort of book I would usually read but I am very glad I did.
Toni Allen
If you're interested in art and enjoy discovering more about the personal lives of artists then you'll enjoy Summer in February. Although this is not a biography Jonathan Smith did extensive original research in order to write the most convincing story about Alfred Munnings, world famous painter of horses, and his life in the artistic community in Lamorna, Cornwall, at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Summer in February is a snapshot in time, covering only a few years prior to the outbreak of...more
Damien Mosley
Beautiful and delicate. I just finished it and am filled with that wave of loss and tragedy that exudes a truly beautiful book. Have I used beautiful twice? Well perhaps that is because it is the most apt description. From the Cornish coastal setting to the gentle build and affection the book brought out in me. What it does so well is know how to build and then not to linger. To move the story on and not dwell when love has been achieved. And though I normally do not like a sad ending, it was do...more
I read this book a while ago. It is set in the valley where my mother lives. My Great Aunt Ella Naper and her husband Charlie where part of the Lamorna School of artists and life long friend of the Knights. I enjoyed reading this tragic story especially as I grew up hearing the names of many of the protagonists.
took a little while to get into but I loved the characters except for one. To think that this is a true story written from a diary makes it even more heart rendering/frustrating and also made me want to do research on the characters.
Erika Schotty
I saw the movie first, and it seemed to be missing a piece of the story, which left me intrigued to read the book. I didn't understand Florence's character; why she made the decisions she did; and I was hoping the book would give more insight. It did not, as the story is told through the men (mainly Gilbert), switching between first and third person. This lack of detail on Florence makes more sense in the book, as the men would not be able to know everything she is thinking or feeling, but it ma...more
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Chloe Mckay
A cannot tell you how much I love this book, a true story about the Lamorna artist community just before the first world war. A well researched novel taken from one of main characters (Gilbert Evans') diaries. A story of talent, love and sorrow. I would definitely recommend and when you're done watch the film!

To see more reviews and things check out my blog -
Dy Swindlehurst
I really enjoyed this book even though it has a heart- breaking ending. Jonathan Smith creates a great sense of place with his beautifully written descriptions of Cornwall. The characters seem to be true to the period of history they lived in. As I read I did look into the lives of the artists depicted, especially the flawed but brilliant Munnings. A tragic real-life story. I would recommend this book.
I don't normally read romantic novels, and I read this one because of the film which is screening in June, but this book totally got me. It is very beautifully written and heart breaking. I know nothing about art or the artists, but am now looking forward to the film. Dan Stevens would play a convincing Gilbert. Dominic Cooper...he even looks like the same sort of person as A.J.Munnings.
A sad but thoughtful book. I wanted to shake the main characters to stop them making such a mess of their lives. Based on a true story of AJ Munnings and some of his fellow artists in Cornwall in the early 1900's just before the WW1. Florence is tragic and naive but everyone loves her. A slow book but enjoyable in a mellow way.
It took me a little longer than usual to finish a book this long. If I was more interested in it, I probably would have finished it in one afternoon, but some of the time I felt there was a bit too much narration and not enough dialogue. I'm a dialogue freak. I love the interaction between the characters.

The funny story about getting myself to read this book was the fact that I had seen the previews of the film adaptation which really got me interested. I immediately searched for it online and...more
For me this was one of those books I couldn't put down and was sorry when it finished.
Having read a little bit about the subject matter of this book, I was expecting more. This book came off as a standard romance set amongst bohemians with typical love triangles and jealousies. I just couldn't get into the characters or story as it was written in a fairly pedantic manner.

I'm usually a fan of books over movies, but this is one story where a movie may be better at heightening the tension and the scenery would become a character. I know a movie has been made, but it has not been re...more
Summer in February is a story of a love triangle between Alfred Munnings, an eccentric painter, Florence Carter-Wood, "Boticelli' Venus" and Gilbert Evans, Captain who fought in the Boer War.
The story takes place in Cornwall and gives an insight into the artistic comunity in 1913. When a painter, Florence, known otherwise as "Blote" arrives to see her brother, Jimmy to Cornwall she is the talk of the town. Beautiful just like Boticelli's Venus, she catches eye of two men- A.J and Gilbert. While...more
Megan Frank
I was propelled through this book by the momentum of the characters, first and foremost, but also by the descriptive and colorful and rich language of the text, carrying me away to a different time and place. Through letters, memories, conversations, speeches, and artwork, we are given varied perspectives and insights into the lives of the characters. The story comes full circle, but it made me return to the beginning to get my proper bearings.
I was ready to put this book down after the first chapter. I was glad I didn't though although it did take me a few chapters to get into it.

It wasn't the plot necessarily that kept me reading. It was the characters. The contrast between Alfred and Gilbert was truly flawless. What Alfred was, Gilbert was the opposite and they both had somewhat dark secrets that were character flaws but more so with Alfred.

Then you have Florence who is described as beautiful as Botticelli's Venus rising from the...more
Linda Finger
I loved this book! I started it after watching the movie of the same name. I was hooked and wanted the whole story. After reading a small portion of the book I had to do some research and look up pictures of Munnings paintings. I spent three hours looking through hundreds of paintings. Then had to read his biography before I could go back to the book. Stunning story. Art imitating life and vice versa. The characters were real and honest. I can't remember the last time I was so excited about a bo...more
Lara May
I loved the descriptions of the male characters but found the woman hard to imagine and I had no sympathy for them as I could not come to grips with them. I have very mixed feelings bout the book while I loved researching more Laura, Alfred and ev... I was frustrated at points in trying to figure out what was going on behind the scenes with Florence in particular who made strange decisions
Very nice story about a community of artists. The writing style left a lot open, or just hinted at, for a long time. Since the story is based on real people it makes sense that we cannot know what they were thinking, however, a little more feelings would have been ok in my opinion.
Alexandra Harper
Jonathan Smith is an accomplished writer. His details are insatiably good, his characters believable and unaffected. However, his plot is rather slow, and he singlehandedly, through progressive (rather counter-character [or perhaps counter to how the character had been portrayed up to then]) action caused me to hate the very character most lovable for the first 7/8ths of the book. I ended thinking "that was horrid, because everything up to then tells me these characters would not have acted in t...more
Clare Gorton
This book offers a delicate yet dark portrayal of pre world war 1 artists escape near Devon.
The story entwines the characters twisting and turning to a dark end
I was amazed to find the story is based on true stories. Definitely worth a read
Always love stories set in Cornwall. Hard to get into at first. Did not realize til the end it was a true story. Movie is coming out with Dan Stevens as Gilbert, so I could picture him (Matthew Crawley) as I read!
Sharon Costomiris
Must love Art, Cornwall, Brits, and Love Triangles to fully enjoy this book. Well written story, the movie was not well received, even though it starred Downton Dan.
I read this as a novel (found it in fiction) and discovered at the end that it's based on a post WW1 artist colony in England - their lives and painting. It was delightful - and a little dark.
Tianyi Han
The book is beautifully written. It's a good read to me. But still bit confused about Florence. She s quite a mystery.
I read this one in advance of the movie, which I hope will play in the US very soon after it premises in the UK(6/14). Alas, the last thing I read about it is that there isn't a US distributor yet. Looking forward to Dan Stevens and Hattie Morahan in it. They do not play a couple but good friends. The book, well...very interesting story, some lovely moments...and an awful unhappy ending. As the book is based on real events, I guess it had to be that way...:( I understand that the movie...more
I fell for the characters, all of them so had to keep reading till the end.
Enjoyable, and made me want to find out more about these artists. I liked looking for images of the pictures mentioned.
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What do you think of the upcoming film? 1 12 Apr 18, 2013 11:26PM  
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Jonathan Smith was born in Wales in 1942 and went to Christ College, Brecon. He read English at Cambridge, taught at Loretto School, Edinburgh and in Melbourne, and from the late 1960s onwards at Tonbridge School, where he was head of English for 17 years. He is married and lives in Kent.
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