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A Summer in the Country

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  753 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Marcia Willett’s previous novel, A Week in Winter, her first to be published in the United States, received a rousing welcome from readers and reviewers alike. Her new novel, A Summer in the Country, introduces an equally beguiling cast of characters whose lives become intricately entwined at Foxhole, a charming and cozy country house on the wild edges of the Devon moors.

Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 14th 2004 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 2002)
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3.88  · 
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 ·  753 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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A gentle, relaxing family saga. Really enjoyable. Enough drama to write an opera, as Frummie snorted and said:
“Of course I have a point. And what I’m saying is, I think we’d all feel much nobler if we had an orchestra around when we’re living those really dramatic moments of our own lives. I’m sure it would be much less of a dreary struggle if Brahms or Mozart was accompanying our own private dramas. We watch all these plays and films and are moved by suffering and fear or great romantic passio
Marcia Willett has an obvious love for the English countryside and the people who live there. In A Summer in the Country we are introduced to Brigid. She's a middle aged, newly minted grandmother who lives on the edge of a moor in Devon, and lets out cottages around her main house. One such cottage is currently being occupied by her mother, Frummie, who has never really tolerated the country, and escaped back to London with another man when Brigid was a young child, leaving her in the care of he ...more
Susan Brown
I enjoyed this book but found the characters a bit over dramatic. The writing style was excellent, making it very easy to read. However, I did find myself re reading sections due to the quite dramatic reactions the characters had to ordinary every day situations. The book began slowly; I read to about page 120 before the back story came to light and I could understand the story a bit better - it was only the excellent writing that kept me reading so long before I could make sense of it. If the w ...more
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this book because it's setting is a home in Devon where the owner rents out the accompanying cottages to those on holiday. That's exactly where I spent the summer of 1974 - in the "mainhouse" with the cottages (and other side of the home) rented out in Devon. I liked the fact that I could so easily picture the location. As far as the story goes, some story lines were way too predictable - and others were delightfully surprising. Do folks in England really drink all that coffee? And is e ...more
Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
She's like Maeve Binchy, whom I like because they're nice simple reads full of mostly lovely people who lvoe the countryside or little villages they live in. Marcia has that aspect going for her, but I think all her books are about people who cheat on one another. There's rarely one person in the book who hasn't had an affair or been cheated on. I'm not looking for perfect romances but it gets to be a bit much.
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
Another snippet of life in the English countryside from the author of "A Week in Winter", which I LOVED. In spite of everything wrapping up a little too pat, a nice cozy story of Brigid and her extended family.
Apr 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
Where was the editor on this one? "Whilst" reading this tale which never got to the murderer on the moor, ther author used "whilst" on every page!!!! On one page, she used it three times in one paragraph. Unbelievable! Willett will not replace Maeve Binchey, or even Rosamunde Pilcher. YUCK!
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent character development.....captivating & engrossing to the end.Fans of Rosamunde Pilcher & Maeve Binchy will love this book! A new author for me & I highly recommend this book.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This is classic Marcia Willett: an escapist, feel-good, happily-ever-after family saga. Willett's strength (besides her lovely writing style) is in creating collections of very civilized, mildly dramatic, characters who seem to be always surrounded by friends and relatives who wish nothing but the best for them. If a cup of tea and commisseration over fairly normal domestic crises doesn't appeal to a reader, these are not the books for them. Still, it's a pleasant "palete cleanser" with nothing ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, fiction
Brigid Foster operates a couple guest cottages on her property, Foxhole, in the Devon moors. Brigid's judgmental mother lives in one of the cottages. Louise Parry is one of the guests who comes for a couple weeks twice a year for some vacation time away. But this summer it seems like each of the women is preoccupied with something they will not share. Brigid's half-sister Jemima wants to try to mend their relationship. Can the women open up and share their lives with one another?
The cover has
Jina Howell-Forbes
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: British mystery lovers who like complex charaters
Typical Marcia Willett. Many deep multi-generation British characters whose lives intertwine while their various emotional crisis are pondered with great angst, then eventually solved. No great mysteries, messy murder scenes, or detailed sex. Just a slice of life with a diverse group of people for a short time. Didn't like this one as well as some of Ms. Willette's books because there is a serial killer on the loose during most of the book that lends an air of tension each time any of the women ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Willett writes in a style similar to Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy. This novel is set in the English countryside, at a small family estate on the wild edges of the Devon moors. The somewhat intricate plot offers a large cast of well drawn characters. While spiced with modest amounts of scandal, mistrust and betrayal, this book is no action packed thriller. Events unwind slowly, and the lurking of a stranger in the isolated byways of the lonely area is a primary mechanism for story developme ...more
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, chick-lit
I'm 10 chapters in and so far there are too many similar characters who all seem to constantly flipflop from feeling wonderful about their idyllic surroundings to feeling utter terror about their relationships. My first by this author & I just wanted a nice summer chickfic read ... hoping it gets better.
Aaaand it didn't very much. At least the ending was happy-ish, though considerably contrived for some of the characters. Think this'll be a one-off.
Jul 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I wish could care about these characters, but I couldn't! The intertwining stories were of three women in the English countryside (in 2002) dealing with some pretty heavy baggage.

This book has gotten lots of good reviews, but I felt "obligated" to keep picking it up and searching for something that would make me WANT to read more. I made it to 1/2 way point before I convinced myself there was something better on my nightstand!
Jul 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Excellent novel that delves into secrets and their repercussions. Secrets from our significant family members and secrets from strangers can both boomerang in unexpected ways. Louise is spending a few weeks at her favorite cottage owned by Brigid and her, always away in the Navy,husband Humphrey. Both women have potentially devastating secrets. Another important thread is feeling rejected by a parent and how that shapes both a person's life and reaction to others.
Jul 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Somewhat unbelievable story of a woman who so mourns the death of her only child, that she blocks it from her mind and 'marries' a man who shields her from it...
as her memory returns 3 years later, we find he has been in tocuvh with the 'real' husband and they are re-united... side stories of those touched by the victim are interesting.
Dec 13, 2016 added it
Did not finish. When the character prioritized protecting her friend from possible embarrassment over including her husband in significant financial decisions (and not trusting him to act like an adult) I just couldn't read any more. Clearly bad things are going to happen to stupid people ... I don't need to be involved.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
As many reviewers have mentioned, this book has a lot of characters each with their own problems. At times I had to stop and try to remember who Thea was or who Jenny was. I liked the book but it could have done with major editing. Being a sucker for books set in the small towns and countryside of England I still give it 3 stars.
Jeanne Jenkins
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I enjoyed reading this book. It takes place in the country in England. There is several characters, and it a bit taxing keeping up with them all. Their lives seem to inter-twine with each other. They all seem to be on interesting journies and besides healing themselves, they also heal each other. It was certainly a good read.
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it
I would give this book 4 stars for the character and plot development, but I found the book to be plodding and bit overly dramatic, so the overall rating is 3. At one point, I was ready to give up reading, but it's a good story, so I hung in.
Bonnie Dieffenbacher
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story started slow , and I'm not really fond of British novels, but as each character developed I found myself liking it. It is a story of women and their relationship with each other and family.
The Twins
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lucky-dip
I was quite surprised on how much I enjoyed reading the book. Lovely characters, nicely described English countryside and you get involved in the moods of the different people. A lot is too good to be true but that's what we want isn't went a little bit too slow at the end for my liking.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love contemporary, or at least in the last century, books about women in the United Kingdom. Rosemary Pilcher is the quintessential author of these types of books but Marcia Willett is very special too. Love her books.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Another good summer read. The reviews compared this author to Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy. An interesting story about the relationship between mothers and daughters (and father and son) and also how one mother handles the grief of losing a child.
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoy the ambience of Marcia Willett's novels so much that I am in the process of reading them all, one right after another. My opinion? You can't miss with this writer. Having said that, this one is probably my least favorite. Still a good read for me, though.

Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I usually like Marcia Willett, but this was not her best work. The plot felt so forced and pizza dough stretched and pulled by hand into the shape she needed. And the characters' inner monologues were so repetitive.
Linda Wells
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another really great book by one of my favorite authors. Didn't want it to end.
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story of women's lives & secrets
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: human-drama
Loved this book and her style of presenting a story. She's a master.
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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
“So much time and energy, so much love and learning had gone into those long years of motherhood, and now, between a morning and a morning—or so it felt—they were over. It seemed that mothers of daughters had a more extended role but she knew that she was lucky to be allowed any part in her boys' lives and tried hard to be grateful and undemanding. It wasn't always easy, when she loved them so much, to practice detachment.... Odd that the last of the parenting skills should be the most painful: the final act of letting go.” 0 likes
“Don't try to fight depression and fear with violent physical or mental exercise. But don't give into them either. Just think. Oh, here they are again, and look past them, as if you were looking over someone's shoulder at something beyond. Fix your mind on what's beyond.'

'But how do you do that?' Louise stared at her in perplexity, longing for some kind of formula, but confused and pessimistic. 'How can you see past something so . . . so huge?'

'You have to practise it. You mustn't let them be important, you see, or you simply feed their power. Don't pretend they're not there by flinging yourself into some manic busyness, they'll simply reappear when you're exhausted, but just look past them as you might look past a tall person sitting in front of you at the theatre. You know he's there but he doesn't prevent you from watching the action. Have something positive to look at—your next possible achievement, for instance, or something as simple as a cup of coffee. Something cheerful but attainable.”
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