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Authors: Marilyn Brant

A Summer In Europe

BOOK: A Summer In Europe
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Praise for Marilyn Brant and
A Summer in Europe

“How I wish I were on this European tour with Marilyn Brant’s
winsome, wonderful characters. I loved every minute of
this delightful novel, from the breathtaking sights to
the deliciously described food to the thrilling new
experiences.
Brava
, Marilyn Brant!”

 

—Melissa Senate, bestselling author of
The Love Goddess’ Cooking School

 

 

“Reading a Marilyn Brant book is like eating a piece of rich
chocolate—it gets you excited, it’s deliciously satisfying, and
it leaves a smile on your face after you’ve finished it!”

 

—Simone Elkeles,
New York Times
and
USA Today
bestselling author of the
Perfect Chemistry
series

 

 

“Marilyn Brant has done it again: she has crafted a warm and wise
novel filled with characters that live on in your imagination. Make
sure your passport is in order. After reading
A Summer in Europe
you’ll want to book your flight immediately!”

 

—Laura Moore, author of
Remember Me

Books by Marilyn Brant

ACCORDING TO JANE

 

FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE

 

A SUMMER IN EUROPE

 

 

 

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

A Summer in Europe

MARILYN BRANT

KENSINGTON BOOKS
www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

Table of Contents

Praise for Marilyn Brant and
A Summer in Europe
Books by Marilyn Brant
Title Page
Dedication
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
1
-
An Unexpected Turn of Events
2
-
From Home to Rome in Search of Adventure and Authentic Gelato
3
-
A Clash of Philosophies
4
-
The Birthplace of the Renaissance
5
-
Lying to Emerson and Aunt Bea and Cynthia and Thoreau
6
-
All the World’s a Stage
7
-
A Prelude to the Music of the Night
8
-
The Bold, the Beautiful and the Bad-Boy Brothers
9
-
Illuminations
10
-
Games People Play
11
-
Beware of What You Wish
12
-
A View with a Room
13
-
Got the World on a String
A READING GROUP GUIDE
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Learning to Play Mah-jongg at the Steak-n-Shake
Copyright Page

To My Dad,
who first enchanted me with tales of world travel ...

 

To My Husband,
who enthusiastically traveled the world with me ...

 

And To My Son,
who now travels with me, so I can see the world anew.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

You can hold in your heart a passion for a place that lingers years after you’ve left it. It takes little more than a flash of film footage, a whiff of a certain delectable scent or a melody that dances through the airwaves and tangos with your memories to bring back the experience full force ... zipping through you like the exhilarating rush of a speeding train ride, on a warm summer night, with the windows wide open.

Such is my love for Europe.

From holding my mom’s hand and gazing out at London Bridge when I was just a little girl to getting engaged to the love of my life on that same bridge over twenty years later, I’ve traveled at so many significant moments that the experience of embarking on an international journey has melded with my DNA and become part of me. I performed in folk-dance festivals throughout Europe as a college student, backpacked with my fiancé-then-husband through the dust-covered ancient ruins of Italy, Greece and Turkey, touched a glacier on the snow-tipped Alps, strolled along the coastal walkways of the Riviera and explored the vibrant European capital cities from Budapest to Dublin and from Madrid to Oslo. I never tired of the thrill of it.

So, my first thank you is to the people of Europe for your kindness and for helping to make every one of my visits a joyous, memorable adventure.

Thanks, as always, to my wonderful writing chapter, Chicago-North RWA, especially to my critique partners Karen Dale Harris, Laura Moore and Lisa Laing, who each brought tremendous insight to this manuscript. Special thanks to Simone Elkeles for sharing her mah-jongg expertise with me, and to Erika Danou, Sara Daniel, Pamala Knight and Susan McBride for their unflagging moral support. The friendship you’ve all given me is a treasured gift.

I’ve also had a team of extraordinary friends—online and off—who make day-to-day life enormously fun. I’m so thankful for Sarah Pressly-James, Joyce Twardock, Karen Karris, Heather Eisenhour, Ann Dingman and Anne Scarano for being my hometown cheerleaders. Love you, ladies—even though you made me sing karaoke once. And hugs of gratitude to my online pals: my 007 Golden Heart Bond Girls, the Girlfriends Book Club, the Austen Authors, my fellow Magical Musings sisters and the generous blogging friends who visit me on Brant Flakes and other sites around the Web. I can’t express how much I appreciate you all.

One of the great delights in writing women’s fiction has been the opportunity to visit so many fantastic book clubs and have discussions about my novels after their release. This year one book club dear to my heart—The Page Turners—read this novel months in advance and shared their thoughts with me. Huge thanks to Brenda Brown, Gayle Jensen, Jeanne Kircher, Kristi Knull, Julie Leach, Dina Pierce, Michelle Ritchie and Evelyn Webber. Your enthusiasm for this story and your thoughtful feedback was truly helpful. Thanks, too, to Nephele Tempest for your suggestions, and to Barbara Dacloush and Ana Dawson for years of encouragement.

Boundless appreciation to my fabulous editor, John Scog-namiglio, and the entire Kensington staff. I feel so fortunate to be working with all of you. Heartfelt thanks to librarians, booksellers and readers everywhere for your interest in my novels and your warm e-mails to me. You’re a big part of why I adore my job.

And, of course, my love and gratitude to all my family—most especially my parents, my brother, my husband and my son—who have understood my wanderlust for as long as they’ve known me and, in many cases, shared it.

If music be the food of love, play on ...
(
Twelfth Night
)

 

 

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn,
good and ill together.
(
All’s Well That Ends Well
)

 

—William Shakespeare

 

“Life ... is a public performance on the violin,
in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.”

 

 

“Does it seem reasonable that she should play so wonderfully,
and live so quietly? I suspect that one day she will be wonderful in both ...
music and life will mingle.”

 

—E. M. Forster (
A Room with a View
)

1

An Unexpected Turn of Events

Tuesday, June 26

 

T
he thing no one understood about Gwendolyn Reese was that she was three ages at once: thirty chronologically, forty-five intellectually and fifteen experientially. The people inhabiting her small circle of acquaintances planned to celebrate the first of these maturational milestones with Mylar balloons and devil’s food cake. The second, they revered privately, hoping their appreciation would score them a shot at being her partner during the odd game of Trivial Pursuit. But, with the possible exception of her eccentric Aunt Beatrice, they were patently oblivious to the third.

Aunt Beatrice—who clocked in at sixty-seven chronologically, twenty-four intellectually and a whopping one hundred-ten experientially—knew how to have a good time. Even if Beatrice’s idea of “a good time” didn’t exactly mesh with Gwendolyn’s own.

A point Gwen was painfully reminded of when she was awakened—at five a.m.—by the persistent ringing of the telephone and realized that on this, her thirtieth birthday, and in complete disregard of her intentions for a quiet solo dinner and a warm bath to the emotionally soaring melodies of Andrew Lloyd Webber, she’d be spending the evening instead with Beatrice and all thirteen wack-job members of her aunt’s S&M club.

The day was off to a disturbingly atypical start.

“Gwennie! Happy birthday!” her aunt chirped on the phone.

Gwen yawned, sat up on her extrafirm mattress, swung her legs over the side and slipped her feet into her sensible beige slippers on the floor. “Thanks, Aunt Bea.”

“I know you’re an early riser, so I set my alarm special, just to wake up in time to catch you before you left. You’re going to your, whatchamacallit,
spinning
class now, right?”

BOOK: A Summer In Europe
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