"Tense, atmospheric, and gorgeously written, The Summer Country is a novel to savor!" – Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network
A brilliant, multigenerational saga in the tradition of The Thorn Birds and North and South, New York Times bestselling historical novelist Lauren Willig delivers her biggest, boldest, and most ambitious novel yet—a sweeping Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.
Barbados, 1854: Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous English merchant clan-- merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados—a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.
When Emily accompanies her cousin and his new wife to Barbados, she finds Peverills a burnt-out shell, reduced to ruins in 1816, when a rising of enslaved people sent the island up in flames. Rumors swirl around the derelict plantation; people whisper of ghosts.
Why would her practical-minded grandfather leave her a property in ruins? Why are the neighboring plantation owners, the Davenants, so eager to acquire Peverills? The answer lies in the past— a tangled history of lies, greed, clandestine love, heartbreaking betrayal, and a bold bid for freedom.
THE SUMMER COUNTRY will beguile readers with its rendering of families, heartbreak, and the endurance of hope against all odds.
Rich settings, romantic intrigue, and engaging characters will draw readers into this dramatic epic of estate owners and slavery in 19th-century colonial Barbados from Willig (The English Wife). Emily Dawson has arrived in Barbados from England, and she surprises her new neighbor Dr. Nathaniel Braithright, the nephew of a wealthy freedman, by proclaiming her inheritance of the nearby derelict sugar plantation called Peverills. The story then reaches back to 1812, when connections between the plantation families and their slaves are gradually revealed through the relationships of landowners such as Mary Anne Beckles, as well as Mary Anne's maid Jenny. Mary Anne marries and becomes pregnant, and soon Jenny is expecting as well, but lineages are questioned and, in Jenny's case, shrouded with mystery. The narrative alternates between the period of 1812 1816 and 1854: in the earlier age, ardent battles for love and land shape the future, while in 1854, Emily struggles to rebuild and run a plantation, but she's filled with the same uncertainty that underlies her attempts to understand hidden details of her family line. The physical and emotional passions of the characters keep the stakes high and the pages turning, making this a powerful exploration of slavery and reformation on Barbados.