Title: At Summer’s End
Author: Courtney Ellis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: August 10, 2021
When an ambitious female artist accepts an unexpected commission at a powerful earl’s country estate in 1920s England, she finds his war-torn family crumbling under the weight of long-kept secrets. From debut author Courtney Ellis comes a captivating novel about finding the courage to heal after the ravages of war.
Alberta Preston accepts the commission of a lifetime when she receives an invitation from the Earl of Wakeford to spend a summer painting at His Lordship’s country home, Castle Braemore. Bertie imagines her residence at the prodigious estate will finally enable her to embark on a professional career and prove her worth as an artist, regardless of her gender.
Upon her arrival, however, Bertie finds the opulent Braemore and its inhabitants diminished by the Great War. The earl has been living in isolation since returning from the trenches, locked away in his rooms and hiding battle scars behind a prosthetic mask. While his younger siblings eagerly welcome Bertie into their world, she soon sees chips in that world’s gilded facade. As she and the earl develop an unexpected bond, Bertie becomes deeply entangled in the pain and secrets she discovers hidden within Castle Braemore and the hearts of its residents.
Threaded with hope, love, and loss, At Summer’s End delivers a portrait of a noble family–and a world–changed forever by the war to end all wars.
Alberta Preston is a young woman who dreams of being a painter. When Bertie is invited to the Earl of Wakeford’s home of Castle Braemore to paint the estate, she defies her parents’ orders and leaves to make her mark in art. However, when she arrives, the job isn’t what she expected. The Earl, Julian, lives locked in his bedroom, having come back from the Great War injured. Bertie spends time with the Julian’s younger siblings, but she can’t help but try to crack the isolated earl. As they spend more time together, Bertie has to figure out the secrets hidden in the estate.
When I saw that this book was described as Downton Abbey meets Beauty and the Beast, I knew I had to read it. I don’t usually read books set in the 1920s, but I really enjoyed this one. The time setting alternated between the present with Bertie at Castle Braemore and scenes from the years leading up to the war that explain what Julian’s life was like before the war. This was a great way to show the events that led up to Bertie arriving.
There were many different types of trauma that affected Julian and his siblings. Julian had been physically injured in the war, which affected his mental health. His older sister was a widow with two young children. His younger brother didn’t conform to societal expectations, so he had to live his life secretly on the estate. His youngest sister no longer had a relationship with Julian, despite being close before he left for the war. All of these siblings had deep secrets that drew them away from high society and united them in a close bond.
At Summer’s End is a beautiful story about life after war.
Thank you Berkley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Miss Lattimore’s Letter by Suzanne Allain
The Heiress Gets A Duke by Harper St. George
Have you read At Summer’s End? What did you think of it?