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Summer in the South

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,284 ratings  ·  268 reviews
Cathy Holton, author of the popular Beach Trip, returns with an intriguing and mysterious tale of dark deeds and family secrets in a small Southern town.

After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Lady There was ghostly like activity but the source of it was never confirmed. The main character was having weird dreams and it wasn't clarified whether w…moreThere was ghostly like activity but the source of it was never confirmed. The main character was having weird dreams and it wasn't clarified whether what the main character was experiencing was part of her dreams or based in reality. (less)

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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,284 ratings  ·  268 reviews

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Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: june-2019
Summer A Thon: Read a book set in summer

Have you thought you'd already read a book only to discover that you hadn't. That's what happened with Summer in the South. I could have sworn I had already read this book years ago but when I started reading it, nothing was familiar. I kept reading and hoping that something would click but..



This wasn't a reread. I had never read this before.

I'm conflicted about this one. I enjoyed Summer in the South and found it to a super fast read but...
Jul 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sally, Diane, Iris, Laura, Cathy, Sara
Recommended to Doreen by: won it here, on Goodreads!
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. What a fascinating book! The story begins in Tennessee, in the 1930's. It centers on a particularly wealthy, WASP family, who has lived in the area for many generations. This family is the picture of the old South: perfect manners, unwavering hospitality, and proud pedigree. Of course there's always the flip side to these old Southern aristocrats: illegitimate children, underhanded business dealings, and secrets about members referred to as 'black sh ...more
Jul 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
The more I read, the more I disliked the main character of Ava. I ended up skimming the book just so I didn't have to spend any more time with her. ...more
George King
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was sent a copy of this book, even though I didn't enter a giveaway contest. I was not familiar with the author, but I'm always open to new reading experiences.

Let me say first that Holton has talent as a writer. She describes characters and settings well and has an eye for detail. The atmosphere she creates in describing the small Southern town and the Woodburn estate is authentic and interesting. The premise of the novel is simple enough: Ava, who lives in Chicago, is invited by an old colle
"Summer in the South" was awesome...I didn't want to put this book down. I even kept trying to sneak and read it at work, it was so good. Ava Dabrowski is so over her life and horrible love life so when Will Fraser, an old college friend of hers, extends to her the opportunity to come down south for the summer and work on her novel, she jumps at the chance. After all, how often do you get to live in a "writer's like colony" for FREE! But, when she gets to Woodburn, she soon discovers that everyt ...more
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Summer in the South: A Novel by Cathy Holton is a simmering summer read filled with romance and intrigue about long-buried pasts. Following the death of her mother, Ava joins a college friend, Will, at his ancestral home in Tennessee where he lives with two elderly aunts. In addition to coming to terms with her tumultuous relationship with her mother, Ava is looking for some time away to work on a novel. She did not, however, expect to find such rich content for her novel right in the home in wh ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Being a fan of southern fiction, I had to give this one a try. I had a stack of books in my TBR pile, but this one caught and held my attention from the first page. The author does a great job of capturing the uniqueness of a southern small town (waving at everyone you see, revealing one's life story in line at the grocer). However, I never could find myself rooting for Ava. She seemed nosy, blunt and cold to me. Actually, I think this is the way southerners tend to view many non-southerners. It ...more
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
** I won this book through Goodreads First Reads**

This book was a great representation of the pride and honor that the older generation in the south take in their family heritage. As I read I could imagine the characters sitting on the veranda enjoying totty time. I could picture the streets lined with trees. I could see the weeping willows swaying in the breeze... I truly enjoyed the mystery that was intertwined within this novel. Without giving too much away I can honestly say that I was kept
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Slow and sultry as a southern summer, this book is full of Southern Gothic. Ava flees her bizarre past to try to write as a houseguest, not really expecting to be intrigued by the equally bizarre and mysterious past of her hosts.

The first half of the book was difficult for me to get interested in. Despite enjoying Holton's previous books, part of me was voting for giving up. Once the scene was laboriously set, however, elements fall into place. I really did enjoy the last half of the book. (And
MaryannC. Book Freak
An awesome book! One of the best books I have read. Loved all the elements of this story, an old, wealthy southern family with secrets,betrayal,the main character Ava who is trying to uncover the truth. All the good stuff that makes up an excellent book. I was hooked and I couldnt put it down.
You wont be disappointed.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am not sure why this book has so many high ratings. To me, it dragged on. The main male character, Will, was brooding and unlikeable. The female character isn't all that special either. It was just blah. ...more
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
At first I was loving this book because it was so much a quintessential southern novel with the sweet tea, the old historical home and it is well written . However as the novel progressed the main character became very unlikable to me and that started to ruin it. There were a lot of loose ends that were never tied up and the character’s lack of respect for people who showed her kindness put a huge damper on what started off as a great story.
Donna English
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed listening to this book and really liked the unexpectant twist at the end. I have not read this author before, but will definitely be looking into her other books.
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-2012, fiction
Ava has professional success at a Chicago advertising firm, but not much personally. Now college friend,Will Fraser invites her to come south for the summer and work on her dream novel while living with his aunts in an historic southern mansion. As she learns more about Will's family, she sees a mystery that is weaving its way into her novel, a mystery the family doesn't want solved or revealed. Will she find the answers?

I started reading this thinking it would be a light chick lit kind of book
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Summer in the South tells the story about Ava. Everything in Ava's life seems to be going wrong all at the same time so when Will, an old friend from college, throws her a lifeline by inviting her to stay with his great-aunts in their house in the southern city of Woodburn. She goes there in hopes of finally working on and completely a novel. Once there she stumbles upon a family secret which no one will talk about. An idea sparks in her mind and a novel takes form as she tells the story of what ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A first time read for this author, I enjoyed the story set in the South. I always love stories in this setting for some reason. This one is set in a small town near Nashville called Woodburn. I personally think it is really Franklin, TN where my husband and I have visited on a trip to see my grandson in Nashville. Franklin is a small town with so much history especially Civil War. From the author's descriptions of the town, it could very well be Franklin.

The main character, Ava, finds herself tr
Jun 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read the book while I was on vacation in Florida and I finished the book rather quickly lounging by the pool. I enjoyed the way the history of the Woodburns was incorporated in the story and it helped me follow the storyline better. There was a little romance, mystery, humor, intrigue and a little paranormal all rolled up in a great novel. All the characters were developed fully and they interacted well together. I got a kick out of the two great Aunts Josephine and Fanny and the way they inte ...more
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
The title really sets the stage for the basic premise of this story. Ava leaves behind a failed relationship and stale job at the invite of an old college friend to stay with his aunts for the summer to work on the novel she has always wanted to write. She hasn't seen Will Fraser for years, and remembers teasing him about the small southern town he hailed from while in college. Aunts Fanny and Josephine greet Ava with true southern hospitality while Uncle Maitland mans the bar at Toddy Time ever ...more
Debbie Maskus
Oct 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Holton presents many of the Southern clichés in this story: the language, the sweet tea, the class distinction, the eccentric characters, and the lifestyle. Many times these props are too time worn and not innovative. The story centers on a young woman from Chicago spending the summer in Tennessee to write a novel. The language and fluency of the novel flow easily and compel the reader. I feel that Holton does not tie up all the threads of the story. Many stories are started and then left hangin ...more
Susan Coster
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
This started off as being a typical Southern fluff book but as the story progressed, it had me intrigued and quite riveted. Ava is a Chicago gal who is disgruntled by a love affair gone wrong. A college friend, Will, invites her to fictional Woodburn, TN, where time has stood still for generations. Ava is determined to write her first novel but has trouble getting her writing started...staying in the Woodburn family home, she learns many secrets, and thus, the story begins. A murder, a love affa ...more
Heather L
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads, 2011
** A copy of this book was won from the author through a book blog **

I was drawn to this novel by both the premise and the fact that the author claims to have been inspired to write it after visiting an old cemetery. I have long loved visiting old cemeteries and often thought them rich in untold stories. I was not disappointed in this book, and found it a fast and engaging novel--which would account for reading it in about a day and a half.
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it
this book had great potential, but lacked a completed development of the characters. Will was weak and pouty. Ava was selfish and ungrateful. The plot kept switching back and forth, so it was impossible to decide what this book really was about. And then Ms. Holton at the end never resolved anything and that is a minus in my book. I could relate to some of the Southern-isms having lived there myself as a yankee. But I was overall disappointed.
Sharon Huether
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Summer in the South By Cathy Holton The author takes the reader to the nicer part of the South. The beauty of the area is so well described, that you want to be there. The characters in the story are older and all live together in a huge mansion; almost a museum. Some things are not said and yet there is a knowing. An outsider enters the picture to write a novel, which she accomplishes. The family is a loyal group. There's romance implied,but no committment. ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Not one to quit even if it's terrible, I forced myself through this book. The characters suck, are terribly developed, and inconsistent. I knew I should have put this book down after the author referred to something as "jaunty." When I finished I saw that the author attended Michigan State University for Creative Writing and that made me even more sad :( ...more
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
I love a great Southern novel; unfortunately this was NOT one! Maybe if Cathy Holton could have made up her mind about what she was writing- historical fiction, gothic romance, mystery, general fiction. In her attempt to be all of them, she achieved none of them. Setting was well done, characters boring and too shallow to enjoy any of them. Bummer.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I totally enjoyed this novel. It was complete with romance, intrigue, ghosts and a wonderful setting of a small town in the south.
Jessica  Sinn (Books and Trouble)
I love the premise of this book, but sadly it did not deliver on its promise of mystery, intrigue, romance and self-discovery. I got a little over halfway through the book and still no semblance of a plot. At some point our leading lady, Ava, stumbles upon some questions about a mysterious death, but just when I thought she'd start strapping on her gumshoes, the story would ramble back into another pointless scene straight out of Southern Living magazine. To put it plainly, this book is one hot ...more
Lone Reader
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Unnecessary long - So many background infos

Unnecessary POV - Darlene..what's the point with that?

I do not even know what's Ava's story arc all about?
I mean, it could've been better if the story is mainly about the Woodburns.
She is like that Wuthering Heights guy "Long-i-forgot-who" who discovers that one tragic love.
But instead of staying in that one corner, Ava steals the "Woodburn spotlight" with her uninteresting life.

I would have preferred to read what Ava had written.

I really hated the num
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Cathy Holton continues to entertain readers with her stories of strong, intelligent women trying to survive in an often hostile world. The Boston Globe says “Holton has a lively, fluid style that shifts easily among the viewpoints’ of several characters and goes down as easily as sweet tea,” while Entertainment Weekly calls her prose “Sharp, witty, and warm.”

Although grateful for the critical pra

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