Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Summer Country” as Want to Read:
The Summer Country
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Summer Country

by
3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,878 ratings  ·  627 reviews
The New York Times bestselling historical novelist delivers her biggest, boldest, and most ambitious novel yet—a sweeping, dramatic Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

1854. From Bristol to Barbados. . . .

Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous merchant clan—merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded
...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by William Morrow
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Summer Country, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kathleen Historical fiction since the story evolves around two actual historical events in 1816 - the slave uprising and in 1854 - cholera outbreak.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Deborah
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,878 ratings  ·  627 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Summer Country
Beata
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a perfect summer HF read for me: exotic setting, a mystery and wonderful narration. THE SUMMER COUNTRY had me invested from the start, with its story of a young English vicar's daughter who goes off to Barbados and finds out about her roots. Descriptions of the life on a plantation are vivid, and the pre- and post-abolition attitudes and relations interestingly presented.
I enjoyed this novel, and many thanks to my GR Friend Barbara who discreetly steered me towards a bit lighter read fo
...more
Bkwmlee
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s not often that I come across a book where I fall in love almost instantly not just with the characters, but also with the setting, the story, the writing – basically everything about the book from the first page to the very last. It’s also increasingly rare nowadays for me to get so swept up in a book that I lose track of time and next thing I know, I’ve finished the book in practically one sitting (and at 480 pages, this was certainly no small feat!). In her newest release The Summer Co ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
A run-down sugar plantation was the last thing Emily thought her uncle would leave to her, but Emily was thrilled about it even though her cousin wasn't.

Emily, her cousin, and his wife traveled to Barbados to meet a few people and to see the plantation.

We meet the family from 1812 and the opulence of their home, food, and life style and then turn to 1845 and meet “friends” of the family.

The connection between the time periods was smoothly done. I really liked how Ms. Willig ended one chapter
...more
Berit☀️✨
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
𝔹𝕖𝕒𝕦𝕥𝕚𝕗𝕦𝕝 𝕤𝕖𝕥𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘. 𝕃𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕝𝕪 𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕪 .

Lauren Willig will completely captivate you with this sweeping family saga. A beautiful story that spans over four decades. Steeped in family history, family secrets, and family ties. The story is set in Barbados and introduces you to two sets of characters living 40 years apart. 1850to Emily‘s beloved grandfather has passed away and left her a sugar plantation on the island of Barbados. So Emily travels from England to Barbados with her cousin Adam and his wife
...more
Christina ~ Brunette Reader

Going back and forth between a 1812 and a 1854 storyline, The Summer Country is a well-researched and cleverly plotted piece of historical fiction, with a touch of romance and bringing the best out of the setting. I would have liked a little more era accurate sounding dialogues and the parts taking place in the early 19th C. definitely surpassed the later years ones, making for a not completely even and balanced read. As a whole though, the lushly rendered atmosphere, the tense racial and social
...more
Camille Maio
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lauren Willig's THE SUMMER COUNTRY is a sumptuous read, evoking M.M. Kaye's lush and sweeping tales of nineteenth century colonial life. Set in the island location of Barbados, Willig attains the ideal aim of the historical fiction genre: educating the reader about a little-known part of history while thoroughly engaging them in the stories of the characters. I read THE SUMMER COUNTRY slowly - doling out exquisite chapters one at a time - because there are too few books written today that harken ...more
Libby
Lauren Willig’s attention to historical detail really shines in ‘The Summer Country.’ Barbados seen through the eyes of Emily Dawson in 1854 unspools like the opening petals of the frangipani. Arriving as heiress to Peverills, one of the oldest plantations on the island, Emily delves into the mystery surrounding why her Grandfather Fenty left her an estate no-one was aware he owned. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 and its timeline of effect informs the narrative. Traveling with her cousin Adam ...more
Lisa Zetes
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I want to thank Haper Collins for this ARC. I do love Historical novels but did find this one a little slow in the beginning. Trying to go back and forth from the year 1812 to the year 1854 Barbados and keep the characters straight was a tad tricky. But to Lauren Willig's writing skills I did become totally engrossed in this wonderful story. I would definitely recommend this book.
Tammy
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of historical fiction and noticed the genre seems to be WW2 heavy. I just finished The Summer Country and absolutely loved it. Yes, it’s historical fiction but a subject not widely known. Lauren Willig’s research shines through as she expertly blends fact with fiction. One of my favorite books is The Thorn Birds and The Summer Country has that same pull for me...sweeping family saga that I don’t want to put down and characters that stick with me long after I finish. The Summer Count ...more
Literary Soirée
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my first Willig, a gorgeous narrative set in exotic Barbados in 1812 and 1854. Emily Dawson inherits Peverills, a sugar plantation destroyed by an uprising of slaves. Owners of the adjacent plantation want desperately to own it. Why? As the multigenerational story unfolds, the truth reveals forbidden romance between owner and enslaved, terrible betrayal, a brave fight for freedom, and enough island Victorian atmosphere to absorb you for days. An eye-opening look at British slavery in the ...more
Mellie Antoinette
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
As my 4th Willigian tome, I have to say this is an incredibly good story. The characters fit the stage, the stage outfitted the scene in beautiful tropical tones and the story swept you from beginning to end with the graceful ease of a windswept breeze.

Holding a slight edge, I would still vote The Ashford Affair as my favorite of Willig favorites (excluding the Ladies W of course since their works as a unit are in a class all their own!). This work comes with a little fire of controversy due to
...more
Faith
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
In 1854, Emily Dawson, the spinster daughter of an English vicar, has inherited a plantation in Barbados from her grandfather. When she arrives to claim her inheritance she finds that Peverills was destroyed in a slave revolt in 1816 and was never restored. It’s owner sold the plantation to Emily’s grandfather. The book also flashes back to the story of the intertwined inhabitants of Peverills and another plantation Beckles in 1812-1816.

This book is in part historical fiction about slavery in B
...more
Paige
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Instead of summarizing the story, I will be reviewing my likes/dislikes for the novel. The characters in the novel were three-dimensional and conceivable. As noted in the summary of this story, the chapters alternate between time-periods rather than characters/POV. I found both time-periods equally enthralling because of the enigma of characters and the lineage, thereof, involved. The love story, deceitful relationships, and family history is carefully crafted.

The focus of the slave(s) was on th
...more
Patti Biley
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a well researched novel of plantation life in 19th century Barbados. It took a while to get into it while listening because the chapters alternate between two time periods, one during slavery and one after. The main characters are the residents of Peverills and Beckles, adjoining sugar cane plantations. Heavy focus on consensual and non-consensual interracial relationships.
Christine Nierenz
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this was an excellent historical novel! I was looking forward to reading this when I was notified that I was selected to receive a copy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I knew nothing about Barbados and the author really brought the story line and the characters to life. Many times when I was reading this on my patio in the hot (dry) sun, I could feel like I was there in Barbados with the descriptions. I really enjoyed the dual approach to developing the intergenerational stories and seeing ...more
Donna
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This is Historical Fiction set in Barbados. This toggled between dual story lines: one around 1812+ and the other was 1854 . The characters were wonderfully drawn. I liked them and I was curious to find out what the reveal was going to be. The setting also lent a certain charm to them.

I also appreciated the fact that everything wasn't all rainbows and sunshine like so many books tend to be in this era. Well actually, there were rainbows and sunshine, but it was tempered with strife and tragedy.
...more
Tracy
Jul 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I normally enjoy Lauren Willig's work. I'm having a difficult time following who is who in this book and I'm just not enjoying it. So I'm setting it aside.....
Kelly
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This epic family saga is set in colonial Barbados. It begins when Emily Dawson from England inherits an abandoned sugar plantation from her grandfather. It follows a dual time line with Emily's story and approximately 40 years earlier. I did have a bit of trouble at the beginning keeping track of all the characters. By 75 pages in or so, I was totally immersed in the story. I loved the unique setting and learned a bit about slavery in colonial Barbados. This story is full of surprising family se ...more
Asheley
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, 2019-read
I'm bumping my rating up from 4.5 to 5 because I finished this book for the first time a couple of weeks ago, then restarted it right away and read it again. So I've read it twice in the past three weeks. It is breathtaking, and I found so much more depth to the story in the second reading since I knew everything that would come to pass by the end of the book.


The Summer Country by Lauren Willig is wonderful, fantastic, brilliant. This story was so immersive that it pulled me in and I felt like I
...more
Susan Peterson
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Summer Country is a sweeping saga of love, family, betrayal, and secrets, set in Barbados in the 19th century. I knew next to nothing about this time and place in history, a time of turmoil and rebellion, of slaves and slaveowners, of wealthy landowners and the poor and sick. This background set the stage for an engrossing story and a unique cast of characters. The dual timelines melded together seamlessly, each storyline brimming with its own emotions and and breathtaking events.
Barb in Maryland
Wonderful dual time-line story set on Barbados in the 1800s. (Be sure to read the blurb for more plot details than I've included here).

Our heroine in 1854 is Emily Dawson, a vicar's daughter but also the beloved granddaughter of the late Bristol trader Jonathan Fenty. She knows who she is and is very comfortable in her own skin. What she can't understand is why her grandfather left her a sugar plantation on Barbados or how he ever came to own such a thing or why he kept it secret.
The flashbacks
...more
Lori
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Emily Dawson's grandfather leaves her a sugar plantation in Barbados. She sails to the island along with a cousin who will manage other her grandfather's other holdings and his wife Laura. She discovers the plantation house burned to the ground but that a couple other homes including the bookkeeper's home remain. A nearby plantation survived the slave uprising of the early 19th century, escaping the fire. The story alternates between the two 19th century time periods (1812-1815 and 1854). In the ...more
Kimberly Mussell
I love the writing style of Ms. Willig. The flow of this story, I can’t even explain the emotions I went through reading this. When those a-ha moments hit you and you’re totally shocked! So many turns I did not see coming. Kept me on my toes and it was so hard to put down! I want more of these characters.
Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC and giving me the chance to read for an honest review.
Deborah
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: barbados
I am a big fan of the author and have read most of her books. This novel is different from her others. I found that the first half of the book dragged, then it picked up. The dialogue crackles and the setting is atmospheric and historic. I love her writing and it is apparent how well researched is the tale. Alternating initially between 1854 and 1812, sugar cane plantation life in Barbados is portrayed. In 1812, Charles Davenant, newly returned from England, is introduced to his neighbor, Mary A ...more
Sharlene
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another amazing historical fiction from Lauren Willig, she never disappoints. This was a time and location I knew little about and the story kept me quickly turning page after page and not wanting to put it down. I felt totally immersed in colonial Barbados. and wanting some rum punch and needed a fan. 5 stars.
Lynn Horton
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I've read a saga, but that's the word to describe this book. It's a compelling read, although you have to be ready to work at keeping the characters straight. (A host of characters in multiple generations tends to be one hallmark of a saga, though, so that's not a complaint.) The Summer Country is beautifully written, and the plot is intricate.

Recommended.
Davida Chazan
Barbados isn’t on my bucket list of places I would like to visit, but thankfully, Willig gave me a virtual visit through this book. Take a look at my #bookreview of this novel to see if I found this literary vacation a pleasant one or not! https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2019/06/1... ...more
Marilyn
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Summer Country by Lauren Willig was the first book that I had read by her that she wrote by herself. I had read two other books that she wrote with Beatrice Williams and Karen White. What a wonderful family multi-generational saga that took place in Barbados and alternated between the years 1812, when slavery and sugar plantations were prevalent to 1854. I knew little about the history of Barbados so I found it very enlightening and enjoyable to read. Lauren Willig was able to capture, throu ...more
Natalie
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was going to give this book a 1 star rating- i didnt like the characters or the story or the setting- then since i couldnt put it down i thought maybe it deserved a 2 star rating and then i finished it and discovered that i couldnt give it anything less than 5 stars for the feeling it left me with. A very good read!
Reading Mama
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"All of our humanity is dependent upon recognising the humanity in others."
Desmond Tutu-- Thank you to William Morrow books and TLC Book Tours for gifting me a finished copy of The Summer Country, which is out today!


Wow, where do I even begin with this book? The Summer Country is a meaty saga of two families that are bound together by secrets and lies. This book resonated with me on so many levels. From a personal standpoint- I am biracial, and my African-American ancestors were slaves. My Cauc
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Golden Hour
  • All the Ways We Said Goodbye
  • The Wicked Redhead: A Wicked City Novel
  • The Chelsea Girls
  • Meet Me in Monaco
  • The Glass Ocean
  • Mistress of the Ritz
  • Where the Light Enters
  • Her Last Flight
  • A Single Thread
  • The Winemaker's Wife
  • Resistance Women
  • Lost Roses (Lilac Girls, #2)
  • Tidelands (Fairmile #1)
  • The Book of Lost Friends
  • Lady Clementine
  • The Giver of Stars
  • Home for Erring and Outcast Girls
See similar books…
3,526 followers
Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of nineteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in History at Harvard before leavin ...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list, we fo...
39 likes · 3 comments
“It’s a virtue to know one’s own heart and mind. It saves a lot of bother and a great deal of unhappiness.” 0 likes
More quotes…