Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Review: Summer at the Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs: 3/5

What to say about this book? Well I thought that the way the story was told was very similar to Susan Wiggs' other book Summer by the Sea; however, the story wasn't as compelling. When I started reading the book and saw how similar it was to Summer by the Sea, I thought I would really like it, but it didn't happen.

After her third failed engagement, Olivia Bellamy - expert house fluffer - decides to take on her grandmother's offer: to renovate the bungalow colony/summer camp in Catskills that her family owns so her grandparents can celebrate their 50th marriage anniversary. Although she went to Camp Kioga every summer when she was younger, the place doesn't hold Olivia's fondest memories... instead, to Olivia, it reminds her painfully of the time when her parents divorced and she was overweight and an outcast, if it hadn't been for her cousins, Camp Kioga would have been horrible. In addition, Camp Kioga is also the place where she met Connor Davis - her first everything: first love, first kiss, first broken heart. So when she goes back to Catskills, she meets Connor again as he is the only contractor available. So Summer at Willow Lake is the story of how Olivia and Connor fall in love again with a series of flashbacks of their camp summers and a multitude of secondary characters.

I don't know what's up with me lately and I'm starting to wonder if the books I'm reading are only okay because I'm being too harsh with them... sigh... Anyway, the problem with Summer At Willow Lake is that nothing happened and too much happened at the same time. I'm not making sense, am I? I think it all has to do with the pace of the book... In one chapter, Connor just accepted the contract and in the next, a few weeks have already passed and so much progress was done... then, the next thing you know, summer is over and the grandparents are renewing her vows. So time went too fast, but it seems Olivia and Connor relationship didn't progress at all.

My second complaint: way too many secondary characters and subplots ^^; you had Olivia's best friend, Freddy, and all her family (father, uncle, cousins, grandparents, long-lost sister) and then, as if it wasn't enough, the author brings in Julian, Connor's brother half-way in the book... and all of them have some a little storyline. I like my book to focus on the main couple or at least, the main characters, so I found the secondary characters disrupting. And because the focus wasn't on the main characters, I thought that Olivia and Connor came accross a bit bleh. Olivia is very insecure, so not a really fun character to read about and Connor, well I thought he lacked a tiny bit of depth.

Aside from that, the book was okay... relaxing. You didn't have to think much, wonder much... There was no major investigation or murder, it solely focused on relationship. The openining scene was funneh too (she's hanging on the top of the flag pole ^^;)

So, not Susan Wiggs at her best, but I'm going to keep the book and see how the next ones in the Chronicles are before making up my mind a 100%.


  1. Hmm...doesn't sound that great.

    Keep us posted, though.

  2. well I'm done reading it and i thought it was okay only... really not one of her best. "Table of Five" and "Summer by the Sea" are better... hopefully, the next one will be better.

  3. I haven't read her last 4 or 5 books - not since she switched more to women's fiction. I do love her earlier historical books though.

  4. Hello Kristie :D I haven't read her earlier historical ones so far and I always wondered. With Susan Wiggs' books, it's mostly hit or miss.

  5. I'm with you...too many other characters just complicate the story and short the reader from the "main event"..IMO.

    I like the cover though...relaxing.

    The odd thing for me is the title...we have boutique in our town called Willow Lake. Kinda caught my eye.

  6. Sandie - yeah, I like it when the story revolves around the main characters, after all, that's why they're MAIN. when you have interesting secondary characters, it's a bonus... but here, there were definitively TOO MANY characters.

    oh, that's cool (the story thing)... I understand why it would catch your attention... as for the cover, nice right? Susan Wiggs don't suffer from the bad cover syndrome.