Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs | Review

Posted May 16, 2018 by Asheley in review / 1 Comment

Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs | ReviewSummer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Series: Lakeshore Chronicles #1
Published by MIRA on August 1, 2006
Pages: 534
Source: Purchased, Audible
Narrator: Joyce Bean
Length: 12 hours, 48 minutes
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Olivia Bellamy has traded her trendy Manhattan life for a summer renovating her family's crumbling holiday resort. Tempted by the hazy, nostalgic memories of summers past - childhood innocence and the romance and rivalries of her teens - it's the perfect place to flee after her broken engagement. But what began as an escape may just be a new beginning...As Olivia uncovers secrets buried thick with dust, one by one her family return, their lives as frayed at the edges as the resort.


I loved this book. Summer at Willow Lake is the beginning of a series of family saga stories with a lot of time spent focusing on the main characters, there is also much (maybe equal?) page time given to introducing the secondary cast for future installments.

In this case, the entire extended Bellamy family gathers at Camp Kioga in rural New York. The Bellamy family has owned the camp for years and years, but it has not been operational in a long time. Olivia Bellamy, with her career in staging homes for real estate sales, has been asked by her grandmother to fix up the camp so she and her husband can renew their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary. Olivia and her assistant move to the camp and get started on the work right away, inviting the entire family to come stay and help out because the job is so big. After Olivia arrives, it turns out that one of the locals that she hires to help is Connor Davis.

Olivia and Connor know one another from way back when they were both young campers at Camp Kioga. Over the course of several summers, the two grew quite close. Then a Big Major Event happened that split them up and they haven’t crossed paths since. Naturally, working together will bring up those friendship/love feelings that they had in the past, and maybe the two will work through what happened so they can have a relationship in the present…all while we (the readers) find out the backstories of the rest of the cast.

Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

So, I loved this. I love these types of series. I LOVE the relationships between the siblings and cousins and the entire family, and I love second chance romances. And I love small-town romance with a lakeside setting. All of these things are present in this book. That – along with “summer” in the title – is what drew me to this one at this particular time.

It took a little while to get the reason Olivia and Connor had such a bad parting many years ago, but the development of their newfound relationship was nice while I waited. I love that these two come from very different backgrounds and are able to look beyond that. Much of this story is told in flashbacks and there are multiple POVs. I’m excited for several of the upcoming installments because I liked certain characters so much. Actually, I’m surprised at how much I liked Olivia; I sometimes find the female characters in books like these to be less interesting than the male leads for one reason or another. But I liked both Olivia and Connor very much.

I’m curious to see what happens with the rest of these characters over the course of the Lakeshore Chronicles series, and I’m hoping for more of this lakeside setting because I liked it so much.

Audiobook Notes:

The Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs audiobook is 12 hours, 48 minutes, Unabridged and published by Brilliance Audio. The audiobook narrator is Joyce Bean. When I look at audiobook reviews, I see pretty mixed reviews for this narrator. I think she was okay but it feels like a little bit of overacting with the male voices – they’re noticeable to me where I really forgot I was listening to a narrator at other parts. I loved listening to this book in the evenings during my kids’ exams and last week of school; it was like completely de-stressing before I went to bed each night. I already have the audiobooks for much of this series already in my audio library, so I’ll be listening while I alternate reading with my paperback copies.

About Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs Author Photo

Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers’ group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, PRI, and USA Today, has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally, and on the high seas.

From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature. Today, she is an international best-selling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries and languages. According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with “refreshingly honest emotion,” and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is “one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book.” Booklist characterizes her books as “real and true and unforgettable.”

Her novels have appeared in the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, and have captured readers’ hearts around the globe with translations into more than 20 languages and 30 countries. She is a three-time winner of the RITA Award,. Her recent novel, The Apple Orchard, is currently being made into a film, and The Lakeshore Chronicles has been optioned for adaptation into a series.

The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

Photo by Yvonne Wong


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


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