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A Summer In Europe

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  497 ratings  ·  110 reviews
On her thirtieth birthday, Gwendolyn Reese receives an unexpected present from her widowed Aunt Bea: a grand tour of Europe in the company of Bea's Sudoku and Mahjongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting--an engagement ring from her boyfriend--doesn't materialize, Gwen decides to go.
At first, Gwen approaches the trip as if it's
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2011 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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Marilyn Brant
Apr 12, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: travel, europe
I'm so excited to share this novel with readers. It's been over a decade since I last visited Europe, but I remember the experience of exploring such amazing sites, meeting wonderful people and tasting absolutely superb food (!!) as if it were just last week... The book club rights to the novel were recently sold to the Literary Guild, the Rhapsody Book Club and BOMC2. I truly hope everyone who reads the story will enjoy it. It was a pure delight to write Gwen's adventure abroad! ...more
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit
Total chick lit about a girl, very organized and certain about her life and routines, who has her world turned upside down when she travels with her aunt's mah jongg gang to Europe where she learns to live life outside of the carefully constructed box she has created. I thought it was very predictable and kind of boring - it took forever for things to happen and there was so much set up for the plot that it was just kind of draggy.

Definitely a swing and a miss.
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
On Gwen Reese’s 30th birthday, it wasn’t the expected gift from her boyfriend Richard (which she didn’t get) but the totally unexpected one from her eccentric aunt Beatrice that turned out to be the life changer for this disciplined and ordered person. Gwen suddenly finds herself the beneficiary of a vacation in Europe complete with scenic and historic sites and in the company of Aunt Bea’s quirky friends and members of her S&M (Sudoku and Math-jongg) club. But something profound happened to thi ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Those who loved Marilyn Brant's earlier books (ACCORDING TO JANE and FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE) are going to adore A SUMMER IN EUROPE (November 2011). It's her best book to date, and I was swept away to breathtaking places with a lively and endearing cast of characters I won't soon forget. SUMMER is definitely a thinking woman's love story, one I devoured as if it were creamy Italian gelato. In summary, bravissima! ...more
Virginia Campbell
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing

"A Summer in Europe", by Marilyn Brant, is a beautifully written story of a young woman's self-renaissance. As Gwendolyn Reese turns thirty and contemplates her life experiences, she considers the orderly manner in which she goes through each day to be her safety net. Her mother's sudden death at age forty had left Gwen shaken and in need of the pedestrian reliability of a structured existence. With her mother's passing, Gwen assumed the responsibility of caring for her father and two younger b
Amy Lignor
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Reminding one a bit of Nia Vardalos movie roles, this is a tale of a lovely woman who suddenly comes to the understanding that life is short. And that even though you believe everything in life is set up as precisely as a business spreadsheet, there are aspects of adventure, thrills and romance that can come along out of nowhere and really open your eyes.

Gwen Reese is our main character. Gwen is one of those women who measures out what to put in her cereal bowl in the morning, she is that precis
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For her thirtieth birthday, Gwendolyn Reese doesn’t receive the expected engagement ring from her boyfriend. Instead, her aunt and the Sudoku and Mahjongg Club present Gwen with a grand tour of Europe. With no ring, Gwen decides to go abroad, her first step in finding herself. Having rarely left the comfort of the Midwest, and uncertain as to whether she is up to spending a summer with her aunt’s crazy friends, Gwen is apprehensive. Yet, it is somewhere between Capri and Sorrento that Gwen has h ...more
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
DISCLAIMER: I won this as a First Reads giveaway.

A SUMMER IN EUROPE begins with this sentence: “The thing no one understood about Gwendolyn Reese was that she was three ages at once: thirty chronologically, forty-five intellectually, and fifteen experientially.” Once I read that line, I was calculating my own chronological, intellectual, and experiential ages, and I knew that Gwen and I were going to have a great trip to Europe together, which we did. Like Gwen, I’m hardly a world traveler, so I
Julie Barrett
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Starts out with Gwen who's a teacher and off for the summer, is celebrating her birthday with her boyfriend of 2years. She's thinking he's going to propose to her but he only gives her some other jewelry. The aunt that raised her, and her S&M (not what you are thinking) board game playing friends give her a treat as one of them can't go. a trip to see Europe 5 weeks.
I find the tour guide is super. He knows where to take them, off the beaten path but also the major
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)

*yawns and stretches* Sorry, please excuse my sleepiness, I've just returned from a fantastic sojourn in Europe and I'm just a teensy bit jet-lagged...

During the summer she turns thirty, Gwendolyn Reese – an unsophisticated and inhibited middle school math teacher that passionately loves listening to musical soundtracks – expects to be trying on wedding dresses, picking out flowers, and planning a wedding with her boyfriend of two years. But instead she is being shanghaied by her aunt's S & M Cl
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gwen and her boyfriend, Richard have been dating for a while, Gwen has a feeling that Richard is going to propose to her on her birthday. Instead of a ring, Gwen receives a pair of pearl earrings. After Gwen’s Aunt learns that Richard did not propose to Gwen, she figures that this is the best time to tell Gwen that she and Gwen will be traveling to Europe. There is just one catch. Gwen and her Aunt will be joined by Gwen’s Aunt’s S and M club members.

While in Europe, Gwen meets Emerson. Emerson
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"No one person can complete me - that's just nonsense. I'm a complex woman. A full mosaic. I want every side of me to shine, not just one or two sides of me."

Brandt takes an ordinary plot device and turns it into a tapestry of tastes, sounds, smells, sights, love, life and discovery. She raises the bar of writing romantic stories by using poetic imagery to describe the cities words as rich as gelato, dense as black forest cake, and delightful as tea and scones.

Gwen's S & M travel companions and
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved all of Marilyn Brant's books so far and read the two romantic ebooks a few months ago. I thought her first novel According to Jane was especially great. So funny and REAL!! but I think this new novel might be the best of all. I felt like I was really on a big trip to Europe. I loved the scenery and the characters. I loved the things Gwen learned about herself and how she handled the relationships with the guys. It was just so good, I'd have to recommend it to anyone who loves traveling o ...more
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit, own
The characters take themselves SO seriously. I've never encountered so many references to string theory, chess stratagems and music-as-math. Maybe if I were more clever ... more mathematically inclined ... or a chess grandmaster, I would have enjoyed it more? I'd really been looking forward to some vicarious European sightseeing and gelato eating. But I wound up feeling as though some of the characters -- including those I knew I was supposed to like -- were actually pompous, manipulative and en ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I’m finding it difficult to put into words how truly beautiful this book is. We are taken on a journey through Europe, but we are also taken on a journey of discovery. As we learn about Europe, the main character, Gwen, learns about so much more. The book has complex characters and themes that are cleverly combined with humor. The end result is a book that is profound, moving, and entertaining. I have a copy of A Summer in Europe signed by the author, and I will always treasure it. This is most ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I won this book last year, and it arrived signed just before my birthday. Marilyn was gracious enough to write a note in the book and a birthday greeting.

I started the book and I couldn't put it down. I felt transported to every place Gwendolyn went. The descriptions of the scenery and the food kept me reading. I loved this book. And I can honestly say its my favorite now. It took over for Bridges of Madison County. I didn't think any book could do that. I can't wait to see if there is another
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
WOW! Talk about an amazing ride and trip throughout such gorgeous parts of Europe. I was able to travel abroad without having to spend a dime. Would love it if this could happen in real life. Marilyn Brant has a magnificent way with words that make you feel as if you are right there in Italy, France or England. Oh, by the way you might have a huge desire for a gelato, just once or twice during the beware!
Allison  Junkans
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Our book club was so excited to read this book. However, I was so disappointed. Out of ten girls in book club, not one girl rated it higher than a 2. One girl didn't even finish reading it. The main problem with this book is that not one of the characters is likeable. I did not care what happened to any of these characters. ...more
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous story of self-discovery, replete with awe-inspiring descriptions of historic places and unique ideas that spur the heroine from her comfort-zone into a new realization.

Marilyn Brant has outdone herself this time. Highly recommended.
Lynn Dixon
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
In A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant, Gwen Reese is a 30-year old math teacher living in small town Iowa. She has been dating Richard for over two years and when she thinks that he is about to pop the question, he gives her a pair of pearl earrings. Problem? She is already wearing a precious pair of pearl earrings that once belonged to her mother. Hadn’t he noticed? She is doubly disappointed.
But Aunt Bea saves the day when she invites Gwen on a two-month trip trekking across Europe with her
Jill Thomas
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-reads
A SUMMER IN EUROPE by Marilyn Brant is the perfect Holiday read. Wait a minute, you're saying to yourself. Did you just say "A Summer in Europe" is a perfect Holiday read?? Why, yes, my friends, I did.

Protagonist Gwen Reese likes things a certain way. From her bran cereal to her boyfriend to her exercise routine, she likes order and stability. Her Aunt Bea, however, does not. So when Gwen's straight-laced boyfriend suggests they take a break, Gwen reluctantly takes Bea up on an offer of a month-
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
Have you ever wanted to travel to Europe see the sights? Marilyn Brant gives us this opportunity in A Summer in Europe.

Gwen’s birthday is coming up and she is expecting great gifts. The day involves lunch with her boyfriend Richard and dinner with her Aunt Bea and the Sudoku and Mahjong club. She is at the restaurant waiting excitedly for the ring from her boyfriend, but instead she gets a pair of earrings with a promise to consider a proposal in the future. Gwen leaves to go to her aun
Kathleen Kelly
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you ever wanted to take a tour of Europe and just never made it, this is the book for you to replace that urge. Summer in Europe takes the reader for an insightful ride, along with Gwendolyn Reese and the other members of her Aunt Bea's Sudoko and Mahjongg Club. For Gwen's thirtieth birthday her aunt has arranged for Gwen to go on the tour of Europe with her. At first Gwen does not really want to spend her time with a bunch of crazy senior citizens but after she thinks about it she decides, w ...more
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think Marilyn Brant did a wonderful job of writing a story so complex with so many characters that I missed the beat of the book at first. And then I found it about 1/3 of the way through and what a wonderful beat that was.

Gwen is a 30 year old woman who teaches mathematics to middle school children. She has her entire life all planned out and she has decided who she will marry. But none of this is based on the part of Gwen who knows the true desires of her heart.

When Gwen's Aunt Bea invites
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've always wanted to travel around Europe and see the sights and feel the relaxed pace of life there. This book definitely increased that longing!

I really enjoyed this book. I was able to relate to Gwen on a few levels, and I loved how she would say what she learned as she was there so we could learn along with her. I was happy to see how she grew throughout her travels, both because of what she was seeing and because of who she was seeing it all with. Emerson and Thoreau were definitely entert
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2011
Oh this book is like sitting in the sun in the middle of a Roman piazza while eating a big scoop of gelato. It's lovely and something to be savored. Just about the only thing I didn't like about this book is that Gwen got to go to Europe for a month and I didn't. Yeah, I'm pretty jealous of this fictional character!

This book had so many of the elements that I love. There's travel. There's a character who is transformed. Gwen's transformation is so well written. At first, she's not really explori
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My goodness, I could've either written this book or starred in this book. I relate SO MUCH to the main character, Gwyn. So many of her thoughts and actions (or inactions) are my thoughts and actions, her fears are my fears, you get the picture. It's fun to see a main character go through what you want to go through and have her inspire you. I especially loved the Thoreau and Emerson quotes, because they are two of my absolute favorite writers/philosophers.

One of the most interesting parts of thi
Moon Love
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I can tell you I enjoyed this book much more than Mariyln Brant's previous one, but not as much as According to Jane. Gwendolyn Reese turns 30, and instead of the engagement ring she's been expecting, her boyfriend of two years Richard, gives her pearl earrings to replace the ones her deceased mother had given her. A little unsettled and upset, Gwen accepts a surprise trip to Europe from her Aunt Bea. Not only is Aunt Bea going, but so is her wacky sudoku and mahjong group, also known as S&M.

Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
At first blush this seems to be a typical chick lit book. However, it is too deep and profound to be merely chick lit. Whether gathering philosophies from physics to guide the living of life or getting lessons from mahjongg, math, or sudoku the heroine learns to be herself and to be open to adventure and change. Such ideas from physics as string theory and time/space relationships are explained in such a way that the reader can grasp enough to understand the author's point. The tour of Europe br ...more
Jan 12, 2012 marked it as did-not-finish
I feel kind of badly about not finishing this one, since I enjoyed the beginning of it. But then I put it down and just couldn't get back into and when I found myself skimming, decided it was time to give up.

I could deal with the quirkiness of the aunt and her friends, but the love interest and his brother felt like too much. And there were lots details, but they didn't seem to MEAN much?

And there's a touch of judgmentalness, which bugs me. (Her motivation for not liking the British women seemed
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Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction, and she was also named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English.

She wrote ACCORDING TO JANE, the story of a modern woman who receives dating advice from the spirit of Jane Austen (1st ed. 2009, 2nd ed. 2017); FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, a tale about three suburban moms, t

Articles featuring this book

Her Favorite Gifts for Romantics: Escape the winter gloom with her new book, A Summer In Europe, and share her top five love stories with your...
17 likes · 10 comments
“The thing no one understood about Gwendolyn Reese was that she was three ages at once: thirty chronologically, forty-five intellectually and fifteen experientially.” 2 likes
“Humans were temporal. They aged and, eventually, died. And while she could have dwelled on her tendency to morbidly fixate on this quality, she chose instead, in that moment, to let it go . . . To let it rise like the sun. A dancing veil of light being lifted off the water.” 0 likes
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