The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Emily Dawson arrives in Barbados in 1854 with her cousin and his wife to see her inheritance from her beloved grandfather: Peverills, a long abandoned sugar plantation. No one in the family knew her grandfather owned Peverills and she doesn’t know quite what to expect. The burned out hulk of a building and overgrown fields are not what she pictured at all. Yet her story and her investigation into the history of Peverills and her heritage is only part of the novel.
Charles Davenant was the owner of Peverills during 1816 with the enslaved of Barbados had an uprising and set many plantations on fire. His story, and his forbidden love for an enslaved woman on the neighboring plantation, form the other part of the narrative.
The two interweaving stories seem to mirror each other in striking ways illustrating the differences and similarities between Emily’s and Charles’s times. This is historical fiction with strong romantic storylines that reads like a family epic laced with mystery. I knew nothing about Barbados prior to reading this novel and this was an interesting introduction to the island with a clear sense of the heat and climate of the area.
Family secrets, lush landscapes, the horrors of slavery, legacies and disease all combine in 18th century Barbados.