Marilyn Brant transports readers across the pond on a whimsical journey of self-awakening amidst the classic architecture and stunning vistas of Europe.
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 eccentric Sudoku and Mah-jongg Club. To Gwen, the prospect of spending a month abroad with this unconventional elderly crew isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she's been long expecting—an engagement ring from her boyfriend—doesn't materialize, she decides to go.
At first, Gwen approaches the trip as if it's the math homework she assigns her students, diligently checking monuments off her must-see list. But surrounded by the bougainvillea and breathtaking scenery of southern Italy, something changes. Gwen begins to live in the moment—skipping down stone staircases in Capri, running her fingers over a glacier in view of the Matterhorn, racing through the Louvre, and taste-testing pastries at a Marseilles café. Reveling in every new experience, especially her attraction to a charismatic British physics professor, Gwen discovers that the ancient wonders around her are nothing compared to the renaissance unfolding within...
A SUMMER IN EUROPE: It's not where you go. It's what you take back with you.
Gwendolyn Reese prides herself on being cautious and reliable. She expects to marry Richard, her dependable boyfriend, and is disappointed when he doesn't propose on her 30th birthday. But then Gwen's aunt Bea surprises her with a monthlong European trip with Bea's "S&M" club (sudoku and mah-jongg), and Gwen, reluctant at first, soon realizes how hard it will be to stick to her conventional routines abroad. She's pushed even further out of her comfort zone when she meets the charismatic English brothers "Thoreau" and "Emerson" Edwards. Emerson introduces her to the pleasures of the continent, from gelato to music in the streets, while they do their best to keep their budding romance under control; Gwen still has a boyfriend in Richard (whose stuffiness pales in comparison to Emerson's delight in the sensual). But Richard has a grand gesture up his sleeve surprising Gwen in London at the end of her trip and it throws her into turmoil. The trip has changed her, making her question what she wants out of life. Brant's newest (after Double Dipping) is a retread of classic themes, but distinguishes itself with a charismatic leading man and very funny supporting cast, especially the wonderful elderly characters with their resonant message about living life to the fullest.