Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow

July 25th, 2014 Kimberly Review 48 Comments

25th Jul
Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow
Deep Summer
by Gwen Bristow
Series: Plantation Trilogy #1
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Not long before the American Revolution, Judith Sheramy, a Puritan girl from New England, rode a flatboat down the Mississippi River with her family. On the river she met an adventurer, Philip Larne -- cavalier and slave smuggler. The story of Judith and Philip is one of struggle - the passionate struggle of their stormy marriage, their struggle from jungle cabin to plantation mansion, and the struggle or revolution. Two abiding passions held them together - their love and their dream of an empire in the Louisiana jungle. When their triumph came it was bitter, menaced always by the hatred of both whites and blacks.

Deep Summer is the first novel in the Plantation Trilogy originally published in 1946 and thanks to Open Road Media it is now available digitally. It takes us into the lives of Judith Sheramy who along with her family traveled down the Mississippi River from New England to begin life anew in Louisiana. Along the way they encounter Philip Larne, a charismatic slave smuggler who enchants young Judith and encourages her to come build an empire with him.

Caffeinated Aspects:
• Bristow brings the Mississippi and Louisiana to life in panoramic view and shares with us the obstacles these pioneers faced. Not only did she bring their immediate world to life, but shared the political climate of the United States, racism and the mixing of cultural beliefs and religion.

• Through her characters particularly young Judith; Bristow took us into the overgrown jungles and let us experience the hardships and joys of cultivating a savage land. Through her writings I could see their temporary homestead and feel Judith’s struggles with the heat, bugs and language barriers.

• The story is very reflective of the period, and we see the effects of government ownership and the impact of the Louisiana Purchase.

• The birth of Judith’s first son will forever be etched in my mind *shivers*  In that one scene Bristow brought the brutal reality of this rural land to life and it’s a passage that will stay with me.

• We experience Judith and Philip’s marriage from the early days of poverty to their final years. We share their successes, failures, and betrayals. Their’s was a fascinating and realistic marriage.

• We also get the story of Caleb, Judith’s brother. His wife Dolores was a colorful character, filled with spit and fire. To me she often stole the show.

• The tale is brimming with interesting details from Louisianan history to keeping bed bugs away. I loved all of the attention to detail from slave crafted furniture to how they prepared food.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

Deep Summer was written in 1946. While the historical aspects were fascinating, the tale is written by a white woman and is a true reflection of the period. You need to keep this in mind, as it is easy to be offended by how slaves were treated. The language, slang and racial tones reflect the period and have a biased slant.

• I did not always like the characters. These characters while realistically portrayed often-displayed behavior that rubbed me the wrong way. Disregarding the period, they often behaved childishly; there was miscommunication, murder, betrayal and  hard lessons to be learned.

If you are looking for a richly detailed look at plantation life in the Deep South, then this tale is sure to captivate you. While I did not love the characters, Bristow brought the story to life and her talent is evident. The Handsome Road the second book set during the Civil War was written in 1958. I for one am very excited to see these older novels republished in digital format for a new audience.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw and Howler. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Find @kimbacaffeinate on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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48 Responses to “Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow”

  1. Christy

    Interesting. I would’ve been all over this 10 years ago. It’s actually pretty cool to read books like this that were wrote at different time periods to see the difference in words and perspective.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was cool, I use to read more of these books and it was nice to weave one in to my reading list. I loved all the details.

  2. kindlemom1

    Ever since reading the Outlander series I have wanted to learn more about this time in our history. This sounds like a great read!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love this type of novel from time to time ..the details were wonderful Ali

  3. Diana Leigh

    I have this to read soon, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it overall. I’m curious about the fact that it was written in the 1940s.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did me the details were fascinating!

  4. Berls

    I don’t tend to gravitate to books/tv/movies about this time period – it can be so brutal and I have hard time stomaching its particular brand of brutality, if that makes sense. I’m glad you enjoyed it, though – and it’s interesting to think about picking up this book considering the racial climate that existed when it was written. Great review Kimba 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved all the details and as much as I like adventure the idea of building from the ground up in a jungle environment without running water makes me appreciate my A/c and coffee maker that much more!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You too Angela, I hope it’s cooler on the East coast. We are at 95 and it’s only 2 pm.

  5. Lola

    Hmm, childish characters can really get on my nerves…It does seem like a heavy book. Glad you liked it though dispite the decaffeinated thoughts. ^^ Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really did love all the details, and like family the characters had their moments when you wanted to smack them in the back of the head. I kept having to remind myself how young and naive Judith really was.

  6. Patricia Preston

    I read this so many years ago! Was surprised to see it out again. I still remember parts of the book. It is epic. Especially the end. I’ve read nearly all her books. The next book, The Handsome Road is one of the few books I’ve seen that tackles the issue of poor white people in the South during the 1800’s. This Side of Glory concludes the series. Also the Calico Palace is a good book about going West. The writing style is dated now. Especially the heavy description.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am anxious to continue and she really does a wonderful job of bringing the era to life, from the mundane to historical events. As for dated I think her books despite the heaviness will be more easily accept then say Steinbeck (whom I love by the way)

  7. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I’m always curious to see how books hold up after several years. It sounds like it does in some parts and doesn’t in others. I do think I would probably be angry at parts of the book, but as you say… it seems to be historically accurate. Hm… will have to think on this one.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really felt I need to warn the younger readers since some of it is shocking, but I must say it is a book that holds up to the test of time.

  8. Tyler H Jolley

    Thanks for the warning, Kimba. It’s so easy to forget that things were very different not so long ago. It’s a great reminder for how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed, I am glad it was portrayed realistically, if not a little biased, it is good to reflect on how far we have come and take a moment to appreciate where we are.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Unlike romances in this period it really sheds light on the daily trials these folks faced, but also shared the good times as well.

  9. Quinn

    This seems interesting, but definitely a bit too heavy for my tastes. I’m not sure I would like this, because I’m not sure I would like Judith.

    Glad you liked it, though, and I agree, it’s great to see older books be given new life through digitization.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      While I would not like a steady diet of this type of read, I always find it fascinating to learn about daily life in a period other than my sure makes me appreciate how far we have come 🙂

  10. Jenea

    The 1940’s is an interesting time, and the Louisiana setting sounds wonderful. Lovely review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I give these characters credit..imagine being the first to cultivate a land and build a home on it…especially with rudimentary tools.

  11. Candace

    I haven’t read a book like this in AGES but when I was younger I would get a lot of the old books from library sales so this sounds like those that I had gotten that were published way before my time. I like the idea of learning about plantation life in the south in that time period though, it’s fascinating to read, though definitely an emotional journey.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was so interesting Candace for the historical aspect alone.

  12. Katherine

    This sounds interesting. It does sound like it was pretty brutally honest if the childbirth scene is going to haunt you! I think I’ll definitely have to be in the right frame of mind for this one but it sounds worth reading.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh Katherine, it was very real but as much as that was horrific I found the scenes about the plantation and daily care fascinating.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was fascinating Debbie and I am glad they are making these books available.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The information on their daily life and struggles was so interesting Ann.

  13. Laurel-Rain Snow

    Ever since Gone with the Wind, I have been a big fan of historical books set in the South. This one sounds good…thanks for sharing.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo I love the novel Gone with the Wind I read it as a young teen and my copy was so dog-eared from reading it over and over!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      They had their moments, and I certainly felt emotions for them, but like family you don’t always love them!

  14. Nick

    I don’t think this would be the book for me, especially because of the racial tones. Although books like these are important to understand the mindset of different people, but it’s also just so hard to stomach their treatment of other people.
    Glad you liked this one, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I will say it is an accurate reflection of the time, although as I said the view is biased. However I think it is important that we see and understand. Rural life was fascinating especially for a woman.

  15. Stephanie

    This sounds like an interesting book. Based on when it was written I am very curious about it. I can see why the characters may have been hard to like, but I do think the look into what life was like back then would be fascinating. Thanks for sharing this! I am curious about the 2nd book too. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I felt for them Stephanie, but some of their I am very curious about the next book, I love the time period and the author really does paint a picture.

  16. Mary

    I have moments where I think I could deal with living back then and then I read a book like this and it reminds me…no way in hell. I like Target and ordering things online and microwaves way too much.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, we have to remember there was no A/C or libraries readily available!

  17. Silvia

    I feel like I already saw this one, but for the life of me I can’t place where… Anyway, I’m happy it worked out so well for you, Kimberly! It definitely sounds like a captivating book!

  18. Tanja

    I haven’t heard of this one but just the fact it’s written in 40s seems really intriguing. I’m really glad that the portrayal was done realistically. I’m sure it’s hard to get into it and understand it from this period of time, but I’m glad it’s real and that it tackles all those issues that were in focus. Great review, Kim 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was well done Tanja and such a step back in time!