After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall, while working on her first novel.
But Woodburn is anything but quiet: Ancient feuds lurk just beneath its placid surface, and modern-day rivalries emerge as Ava finds herself caught between the competing attentions of Will and his black-sheep cousin Jake. Fascinated by the family’s impressive history—their imposing house filled with treasures, and their mingling with literary lions Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner—Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the Woodburn's legacy. Putting aside her planned novel, she turns her creative attentions to the eccentric and tragic clan, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone could possibly imagine. As Ava struggles to write the true story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own.
I read the book while I was on vacation in Florida and I finished the book rather quickly lounging by the pool. I enjoyed the way the history of the Woodburns was incorporated in the story and it helped me follow the storyline better. There was a little romance, mystery, humor, intrigue and a little paranormal all rolled up in a great novel. All the characters were developed fully and they interacted well together. I got a kick out of the two great Aunts Josephine and Fanny and the way they interacted with Ava especially during Toddy Time (cocktail hour). Ava had writers block in the beginning of the book and as the story went on the mystery behind the family helped spark Ava's writing. I recommend the book and is it a great summer read.