The Summer Before the Storm

The Summer before the Storm, her first in this series of Muskoka novels, received high tribute when selected in June 2010 by Muskoka Chautauqua for its Reading Circle List.

German-born Wills, with degrees in social science and education, has been an educator, literacy coordinator, website designer, and activist in heritage preservation, but writing fiction has been her passion for years. Back in the 1960s as a teen Gabriele spent weeks each summer at a Muskoka cottage, hearing tales about early days in the district, and resolving "that one day I would write about that genteel time in legendary Muskoka."

The Summer Before the Storm, a work of historical fiction, is the result. Her 525-page novel blends real personalities Woodrow Wilson, Timothy Eaton, Robert Borden, Pauline Johnson and others with characters sprung entirely from Wills' inventive mind. Together they populate this 1914 Muskoka saga, set against a genteel and idealized background. It is a romantic Muskoka of islands and lakes and cruises where the privileged lives of wealthy and artistic folk careen from partying and plotting even as the war clouds over Europe burst open, changing the world forever.

On July 22 Gabriele Wills, the ever-enterprising author, spoke about her book at a Muskoka Chautauqua event in Marriott's Red Leaves resort on Lake Rosseau, giving as well a power-point presentation "The Muskoka Novels: Fact in Fiction" about her process of creating fiction from fact, a show incorporating interesting historic as well as current photos. For Muskoka's writers and readers alike, Gabriele's keenness to share what she knows is a two-track journey for discovering Muskoka by the book.

— Review by J. Patrick Boyer

ISBN: 978-0-9732780-2-6
Mindshadows, 2006
548 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 in
$21.95 CDN/USA paperback


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