Title: A Summer in Europe
Author: Marilyn Brant
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Travel
Rating: 4 out of 5
Gwendolyn Reese is about to turn thirty years old, and she is satisfied with her life. She has a reliable boyfriend, and everything around her is steady. But Gwendolyn’s Aunt Bea believes that her niece is missing out on the real joys and pleasures of life because she lives a life without passion. As a thirtieth birthday present, Aunt Bea gives Gwendolyn a ticket for the trip of a lifetime – a tour around Europe along with Bea’s Mahjongg and Sudoku group. Reluctant to leave the comforts of home, Gwendolyn embarks on a trip that will change her life forever.
A Summer in Europe is an armchair traveler’s dream come true. Brant describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Europe with incredible finesse and really brings her settings to life for the character. Her writing is really wonderful, and her descriptions and attention to detail leave the reader immersed in their imaginations. But Brant has a secondary message to those armchair travelers in her novel – leap at the chances life offers you. Budgets, schedules, and other difficulties in life can prevent us from seeing our dream destinations in person, but if the chance falls in your lap like it did into Gwendolyn’s, make the most of it.
Gwen is an interesting character, though she is a bit stodgy when the book begins. That’s not to say the reader can’t sympathize with her or she’s difficult to like, because that’s not it at all. It’s clear that Gwendolyn has been watching her life pass her by, rather than seizing it and living things to the fullest. As a result, she no longer knows how to be an active participant. This trip is Gwendolyn’s first step to making her dreams come true, instead of just settling for second best.
The one aspect of A Summer in Europe that was a bit difficult for me were Emerson and Thoreau, two charming but devious brothers who are possible love interests over the course of the novel. They are funny and witty, but they also are manipulative and childish. One wonders why they chose to travel together since they can’t go a few pages without arguing, competing, or giving one another the silent treatment. It becomes old quickly, especially towards the end of the novel when the extent of the manipulation becomes clear.
That being said, A Summer in Europe is an entertaining, breezy read that’s perfect for the summer. The lovely descriptions will feed your desire to travel, while also being incredibly satisfying. It’s also wonderful to watch Gwen let go of herself and give in to the experiences around her, rather than just treating Europe as some sort of giant checklist. This was an engaging, entertaining read, and I look forward to seeing what Marilyn Brant does next.
Other books by Marilyn Brant: