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A Summer In Europe

A Summer In Europe

4.4 17
by Marilyn Brant

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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 Sudoku and Mahjongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting--an engagement ring from her boyfriend--doesn't materialize, Gwen decides to go.

At first, Gwen approaches the trip


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 Sudoku and Mahjongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting--an engagement ring from her boyfriend--doesn't materialize, Gwen 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 amid the bougainvillea and stunning vistas 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 cafe. 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 thinking woman's love story, it swept me away to breathtaking places with a cast of endearing characters I won't soon forget. Bravissima!" –Susan McBride, author of Little Black Dress

Praise for Marilyn Brant's According to Jane

"A warm, witty and charmingly original story." --Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author

"Brant infuses her sweetly romantic and delightfully clever tale with just the right dash of Austen-esque wit." –Chicago Tribune

"An engaging read for all who have been through the long, dark, dating wars, and still believe there's sunshine, and a Mr. Darcy, at the end of the tunnel." --Cathy Lamb, author of Such a Pretty Face

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Summer in Europe 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Expected just an easy-read romance novel. It was that and more. Wonderful characters who will inspire you to be forever young-minded as well as open to all experiences and people. The writing brought me back to my own European travels and inspired me to return. Emerson & Thoreau quotes were lovely...my favorite being "In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows." Recommended good light summer read.
mrsinserra More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. Ms. Brant did a superb job of verbally describing Europe- I almost felt like I was there with the tour group. There is a lot of description of places, food, things you'd see; but there is also a nice element of romance to the novel. I am not going to go into detail about the story itself- other than to say it has a bit of an open ending. Does this mean Mr. Brant will write a continuation- I don't know, but I sure hope she does.
sfc98 More than 1 year ago
This is absolute chick lit. Written however for what I would consider a more advanced reader, this is not mindless fluff, not a beach read or a juicy romance. It is a deep love story, it researches all parts of relationships and in the end it does not give you the answer that you think is coming, it allows you to draw your own conclusion, which I will! The characters are deep, they work together in ways you think "brainy" mathematicians, elderly sudko players, siblings and a young teacher who by all means could be considered quite boring at the begining of the book, could never mesh, let alone be brought together in a chick lit work of fiction.This is a good read, but you must look within yourself to gain answers from this one, there are no handouts here!
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
A SUMMER IN EUROPE Marilyn Brant Starts out with Gwen who's a teacher and off for the summer, is celebrating her birthday with her boyfriend of 2years. She's thinking he's going to propose to her but he only gives her some other jewelry. The aunt that raised her, and her S&M (not what you are thinking) board game playing friends give her a treat as one of them can't go. a trip to see Europe 5 weeks. I find the tour guide is super. He knows where to take them, off the beaten path but also the major touristy sites. He gives them time to wander on their own if they wish or to stay as a group. Gwen does a bit of both. She describes the market place in detail that makes me want to go just to experience the smells and colors. Her aunt tries to push her into going out more after dinner so she will forget her dull boyfriend and maybe have some fun. Cool how one of the group is heavily into numbers and knows exactly how many steps a certain museum has, sometimes over 400. The views, gardens, parks and gondola rides sound like something I would want to do. At a friends house yesterday and she showed me set of earrings made from blown glass on the island of Murano=very fascinating design. In the book that is one of their stops=to see the glass blowers. Love how knowledgeable the guide is. Would make this trip in their footsteps if I had him for a guide. This book describes what a lot of places are like seeing them for the first time, very detailed. You can tell the appreciation for the buildings, architecture, sounds, colors, traditions, and the story that goes along with the group on this adventure. Between the guide and the England part of the group there is a wealth of knowledge as to what facts they know, astonishing! Tragedy strikes on their way to play in the world wide tournament. Gwen gets a shock when they arrive in England. Love the ending and also the explanation of how to play the board game, thanks for adding that. What I would have liked to have seen was the map of their journey.
erlovesbooks More than 1 year ago
I¿ve thoroughly enjoyed all of Brant¿s books, but this is my favorite. I got to travel through Europe vicariously with Gwen, the main character, seeing the sights, eating the food, and interacting with her aunt and her aunt¿s S&M friends (Sudoku and Mah-jongg). They¿re colorful characters, and Gwen is the onlooker, taking everything in but not giving herself fully to life. The book is about Gwen¿s transformation, and part of this comes about because of a man who¿s the most colorful character in the book. But what I loved most about the book is Brant¿s prose. Her first book was According to Jane, in which the main character has Jane Austen giving her advice. Perhaps Brant channeled a bit of Jane herself. Her prose is Austen-like ¿ observing, witty and charming - making this a joy to read.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
On Gwen Reese's 30th birthday, it wasn't the expected gift from her boyfriend Richard (which she didn't get) but the totally unexpected one from her eccentric aunt Beatrice that turned out to be the life changer for this disciplined and ordered person. Gwen suddenly finds herself the beneficiary of a vacation in Europe complete with scenic and historic sites and in the company of Aunt Bea's quirky friends and members of her S&M (Sudoku and Math-jongg) club. But something profound happened to this regimented life on this very free spirited journey and as Gwen travels a road she's unfamiliar with she learns something about herself that was hidden beneath that façade of uniformity, even more surprising is that she's not the only one on a path of discovery. Emerson Edwards and his brother, Thoreau, meet the group in Italy and throw a wrench in Gwen's well-oiled life with their intelligence and their irreverence. There are consequences that come with discovery and it's as these two very different roads connect that Gwen will find out if the fear of her past will dictate her future. This is a brilliant piece of contemporary literature, it's timeless in its essence. Ms. Brant brings us a rather later that usual coming of age in this story of a woman who's life has been ruled by loss and fear, then she gives us the hope that this new woman can come out of her chrysalis in tact and ready to take on her whole new world. She does this with her customary prose like dialogue and a narrative that will take your breath away as she takes us through Europe that can vividly be seen in your mind's eye. Her characters are superstars, every one of them from the 90 year old feisty Zenia to the 15 year old Ani and all the ones in between. But it's Gwen who shines the brightest, who we will cry with and cry for, who we will root for and scold who we will want for most of all as we see her evolve throughout the novel. Is it a love story, yes it is, but not just a romance, it's the love of one's self, of familial and friend love and of course also that love that makes the world go round, the kind of love that heats the coldest of nights and fills the emptiest of rooms. This is your first must read of December and you'll want to share with the people who mean the most to you, a perfect stocking stuffer and yes it wraps beautifully. It's also a read that will be enjoyed by multi-generations and both sexes. If this is your first trip with Marilyn Brant I know it won't be your last. Thank you Ms. Brant for another exceptional read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing tour of Europe, self, and love, blended with science and the arts. Gwen, as a gift from a crazy Aunt Bea, gets the chance of a lifetime to leave Iowa to go on a European vacation with her aunt's S&M group (that's sudoku and ma-jongg). What will happen to her straitlaced, self-conscious, self as she learns to embrace the world around her and actually take a chance on life? A very interesting story that will make you want to get out and live a little more and look at the beauty around you. A great gift idea for readers of all ages.
gincam More than 1 year ago
"A Summer in Europe", by Marilyn Brant, is a beautifully written story of a young woman's self-renaissance. As Gwendolyn Reese turns thirty and contemplates her life experiences, she considers the orderly manner in which she goes through each day to be her safety net. Her mother's sudden death at age forty had left Gwen shaken and in need of the pedestrian reliability of a structured existence. With her mother's passing, Gwen assumed the responsibility of caring for her father and two younger brothers. Later, she finds some sense of satisfaction in her teaching career, and her love of music is a source of pleasure. Expecting her boyfriend, Richard, to propose, she is taken aback when he postpones making the commitment. Gwen's lively Aunt Bea, sister of Gwen's late mother, offers her a chance of a lifetime--to join her and the members of her S&M Club for a summer-long tour of Europe. "S&M" stands for sudoku and mahjongg, and Aunt Bea and her friends are die-hard devotees of the games. At first, Gwen feels awkward and out-of-place, intimidated by the timeless culture of her surroundings and the intellect and sophistication of some of the fellow travelers she meets along the way. However, as time passes, Gwen begins to absorb the sights and sounds and tastes and textures of each place that they visit. The more she takes in, the lighter she begins to feel, shedding the repression of her inhibitions. Her attention is captured and held by two charming and intelligent brothers, Emerson and Thoreau, whose main goal in life seems to be one-upping each other at every opportunity. It is Emerson to whom she is most drawn, and when he makes it clear that he returns her interest, her emotions take an unexpected turn. Still involved with Richard, she is not free to begin a relationship with Emerson, but her heart speaks a different language. When Richard unexpectedly joins her near the end of her grand tour, she must face her real feelings about life and love. Will she learn to let go and take a leap of faith, or will she return to the known comfort of the cocoon of her orderly world? The author's great love of Europe and her extensive travels there are evident in her delightful, irresistible descriptions of the beauty and bountiful offerings to be found throughout the European continent. The subtle, insightful way with which Marilyn Brant has crafted Gwen's story will make you feel as if you are experiencing everything right beside Gwen. You will breathe the air, inhale the intoxicating aromas, and be enchanted by the art and music and flow of languages. You will taste all the fantastic flavors of gelato, savor the linguine with meat sauce and the variety of quiches, and feel lust in your heart for the fabulous pastries and artisan chocolates. Perhaps the Sachertorte will be your undoing. A layered chocolate cake is filled with apricot jam, coated in chocolate ganache, and then finished with a chocolate glaze. The flavors are then immeasurably enhanced by the giving and receiving of forkfuls of said cake between two people caught up in the spell of the love of a lifetime. Like me, you may never see your travel dreams come to fruition, but thanks to Marilyn Brant, you will always have the pleasure of "A Summer in Europe". Review Copy Gratis Kensington Books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please save your money...this book is terrible. It seems like the author just got back from vacation and wanted to brag about what she saw and learned. Really....this book is not worth 2 cents.
BeachRead245 More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wanted to travel to Europe see the sights? Marilyn Brant gives us this opportunity in A Summer in Europe. Synopsis: Gwen’s birthday is coming up and she is expecting great gifts. The day involves lunch with her boyfriend Richard and dinner with her Aunt Bea and the Sudoku and Mahjong club. She is at the restaurant waiting excitedly for the ring from her boyfriend, but instead she gets a pair of earrings with a promise to consider a proposal in the future. Gwen leaves to go to her aunt’s for the birthday dinner with the club. They eat and then present her with her gift a trip to Europe. Gwen is surprised! Will she survive leaving her comfortable surroundings in Dubuque Iowa? Will her relationship with Richard last? My Thoughts: I liked this book a great deal. Who doesn’t love taking a trip to Europe? I thought the plot was great for this book. The idea of taking someone so limited as Gwen and exposing her to new possibilities. I love the growth of Gwen throughout the book. I could sympathize with her feelings about traveling with the S and M club. I did find the book a little slow at times. If you could dream of a great vacation? Where would you go? In this journey Gwen and Aunt Bea visited Italy, France, Austria, England, and Hungary. Which would be your favorite to visit? If you would like to visit these countries? Then Marilyn is giving away a Summer in Europe gift basket with a signed copy of the book, t-shirt, and movie. This is a giveaway at Stonecrest Library. Rating: 4/5 Please contact Marilyn on Facebook, twitter, or her website.
JakkiL More than 1 year ago
For her thirtieth birthday, Gwendolyn Reese doesn’t receive the expected engagement ring from her boyfriend. Instead, her aunt and the Sudoku and Mahjongg Club present Gwen with a grand tour of Europe. With no ring, Gwen decides to go abroad, her first step in finding herself. Having rarely left the comfort of the Midwest, and uncertain as to whether she is up to spending a summer with her aunt’s crazy friends, Gwen is apprehensive. Yet, it is somewhere between Capri and Sorrento that Gwen has her great awakening. Everything now is vivid, vibrant, and alive; she is alive. Helping her along is physics professor Emerson Edwards. However, the more time Gwen spends in Emerson’s company, the greater her struggle becomes, as her new passion for culture is not the only awakening Gwen is having. Even though things may be platonic between the two, there’s no getting around the sparks flying from all the sexual tension. From feeding each other linguini and chocolate cake to their unique understanding for each other, I was completely wrapped up in their story. But will Gwen’s renaissance take root enough for her to forget the safety and predictability of life back in Iowa with her boyfriend Richard or will she take a chance in her search for her own passions? Adding to the amusement of the story was the S&M Club. It didn’t matter if Hester, Zenia and Aunt Bea were discussing The Bold and the Beautiful, which men are “fling-worthy,” or a new way to dispose of someone as a plot for a novel, they had me in stitches. I mean, who expects a sixty-seven year old aunt to encourage her niece to “lose” her hotel key so she will have no other choice than to spend the night elsewhere? A Summer in Europe was truly an enjoyable novel. I found Brant’s storytelling supreme, her characters real, and Europe breathtaking. In addition to the lovable characters, it was the author’s picturesque language that had me experiencing Gwen’s awakening and Europe first hand. Brant’s ability to take the smallest details and tie them into the major themes and motifs, as well as her perfectly chosen descriptions, wove this story together like one of Zenia’s finely knitted scarves. I was not ready to say good-bye to my new friends or to unpack my bags and put away my passport. In doing so, it would mean my summer in Europe was over, and while entertaining and introspective, A Summer in Europe was a journey I did not want to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
A story that centers around a newly 30-year-old who didn't celebrate her birthday quite like she had thought - no jewelry meant for the left hand was received, if you get my drift. She ends up taking a trip around Europe with her Aunt and her wacky friends who find math, philosophy and history all interesting topics of conversation and debate. Although the characters were definitely interesting, I didn't fall in love with them and couldn't connect with them. There was a quite a large ensemble cast to keep straight, it required a post it note! The characters may have been off, but the location was spot on. The way the author described the different tourist stops in Europe made me want to book a trip immediately. I loved exploring the city along with the main character Gwen. A great story concept that at times had me enjoying this one, but in the end the wordie philosophical aspect of the characters had me turned off. If you are a reader who likes a little more wordiness to your women's fiction, this book would be the perfect one to add to your holiday wish list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago