Pardon me if I’m a bit groggy today. I’ve been up late the last couple of nights. Why? Because I COULD NOT put this book down. Yep, it’s been a long time since I’ve liked a book this much. That’s once reason the reviews have been sparse.
Okay, I realize you might want to actually know more about it before you head out to the bookstore or let your fingers do the walking over to the online bookstore of your choice. Here you go.
Gwendolyn Reese is a small town, midwestern girl who has carefully controlled her life in hopes of never being disappointed or hurt ever again. Her Aunt Bea lives her life entirely differently [Gwen’s boyfriend uses the term ‘unusual’ when he’s being kind] and when Bea’s mah-jong and suduoku group has extra tickets for a tour of Europe she buys them for herself and Gwen.
Gwen sets about touring Europe the same way she lived her life in Iowa – by a timetable and checklist until a couple of things happen. Gwen really begins to look around and notice the true wonder of Italy, their first stop, and realize, with her aunt’s help, that there’s no way she could ever see or appreciate everything there is in the few days they have on their tour. And their group of senior citizen puzzlers is joined by their ‘sister group’ from the UK and it turns out that this group is not full of octogenarians at all. In fact, there are two brothers, both in their 30’s and full of life, who are very dramatic, very competitive, and at least one of whom, is very taken with Gwen.
This isn’t lost on Gwen but does pose some difficulty, in that Gwen is in a committed, allbeit, unfulfilled, relationship. I’ll let you know now that Gwen chooses the high road and you’d be very proud of her! She and Emerson remain friends through the tour and it is in this blossoming friendship that Gwen and Emerson learn so much about their own selves.
But you could probably have learned this from reading the jacket cover.What I can also tell you is that this is a book full of incredibly rich language and beautiful layers of story. It’s a story about relationships and families of many types and people who have chosen, or had chosen for them, different kinds of families. It’s about epiphanies and those moments where we find ideas laying just ahead of us around the corner. It’s about learning about life from the people around us and seeing the world through their eyes and knowing that you’re understanding is richer for it. It’s about life and aging and questions of death. It’s about food and travel and coming to terms with the ‘shoulds’ in our lives and making new plans for ourselves when we don’t like the ones we’ve made. It’s Gwen’s journey but it’s the journey of everyone in this story in some way and I think you’ll find that it’s your journey, too.
Are you ready to head off for A Summer in Europe? I just bet you are. I know. It’s not out yet. [It’s available Nov. 29, 2011] Do a pre-order and you’ll get it soon and then you, too, will find that you can’t put it down. In the meantime, Marilyn Brant has a couple of ebooks that I mentioned recently before I even knew about this book – seriously. Hope on over to that page and take a look.