Read Summer in February by Jonathan Smith Online


Sir Alfred Munnings, retiring President of the Royal Academy, chooses the 1949 Annual Banquet to launch a savage attack on Modern Art. The effect of his diatribe is doubly shocking, leaving not only his distinguished audience gasping but also many people tuning in to the BBC's live radio broadcast. But as he approaches the end of his assault, the speech suddenly dissolvesSir Alfred Munnings, retiring President of the Royal Academy, chooses the 1949 Annual Banquet to launch a savage attack on Modern Art. The effect of his diatribe is doubly shocking, leaving not only his distinguished audience gasping but also many people tuning in to the BBC's live radio broadcast. But as he approaches the end of his assault, the speech suddenly dissolves into incoherence when he stumbles over a name--a name he normally takes such pains to avoid--that takes him back 40 years to a special time and a special place.Summer in February is a disturbing and moving re-creation of a celebrated Edwardian artistic community enjoying the last days of a golden age soon to be shattered by war. As resonant and understated as The Go-Between, it is a love story of beauty, deprivation, and tragedy....

Title : Summer in February
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780349139128
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Summer in February Reviews

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-04-03 18:42

    I knew very little about this novel when I picked it up in a charity shop 3 for 95 pence deal. From the ads for the 2013 film adaptation with Dan Stevens, I had in mind that this was an obscure classic. It was in fact published in 1995, but is inspired by real incidents spanning roughly 1909 to 1949. It’s set among a group of Royal Academy-caliber artists in Lamorna, Cornwall, including Alfred Munnings, who went on to become the academy’s president in 1944–9.The crisis comes when Munnings and Captain Gilbert Evans, a local land manager, fall for the same woman. A love triangle might not seem like a very original story idea, but I enjoyed this novel particularly for its Cornish setting (“From dawn to dusk it had rained non-stop, as only Cornwall can”; “The sea was slate grey and the sky streaky bacon”) and for the larger-than-life Munnings, who has a huge store of memorized poetry and is full of outspoken opinions. Two characters describe his contradictions thusly: “I can see he’s crude and loud and unpolished and Joey says he cuts his toenails at picnics but…”; “he’s one in a million, a breath of fresh air, and he’s frank and fearless, which is always a fine thing.”The title refers to the way that love can make any day feel like summer.(The cover image is Morning Ride by A.J. Munnings.)For more information on Munnings, see here.For more information on Gilbert Evans, see here. (Beware spoilers!)

  • Maha Maged
    2019-03-22 22:48

    في وجهة نظري الأجدر بالحب أن يكون ناضجا عاقلا منطقيا ، يقولون أن الرجل عندما يحب يتحول لطفلٍ صغير لا يعي ما يفعل باسم الحب و لكن ثمة فرق كبير بين رجل رزين حوله الحب لطفل ،و بين رجل مراهق حوله الحب لمراهق أكثر خطورة يبني حبه علي أسس ضعيفة جنونية وللأسف النوع الثاني من الرجال قد يلفت الانتباه أكثر و قد يعجب الكثير من الفتيات و يرضي غرورهن ، هذا بالظبط ما حدث هذه الرواية التي تأخذنا في جولة في حياة ألفريد مونينجز أعظم فناني بريطانية و صديقه المقرب جيلبيرت . على الرغم من نشأته في أسرة عاملة مكافحة إلا ان مونينجز نجح في الاستحواذ على مشاعر فتاة الطبقة الراقية فلورنس كارتر وود ، ولكن الأمور تتعقد و تسوء نتيجة إعجاب جيلبيرت " الرجل الرزين الناضج " بفلورنس. ليتسبب هذا الحب هذا في نتائج كارثية. أظن أن الرواية أجمل و أمتع بكتير من الفيلم

  • Damien Mosley
    2019-03-21 20:25

    Beautiful and delicate. I just finished it and am filled with that wave of loss and tragedy that exudes a truly beautiful book. Have I used beautiful twice? Well perhaps that is because it is the most apt description. From the Cornish coastal setting to the gentle build and affection the book brought out in me. What it does so well is know how to build and then not to linger. To move the story on and not dwell when love has been achieved. And though I normally do not like a sad ending, it was done with such tenderness that it was the only way.

  • Mary
    2019-04-03 17:20

    Lovely descriptions of the Cornish landscape.A sad and tragic story of the artists in Lamorna.I really felt for Captain Evans who's love for Florence which could never be shown after her marriage to Alfred Munnings.Would love to see the film.If you love art and paintings , this is based on actual people from the turn of the century.

  • Lucie
    2019-04-05 18:38

    The movie is going to wreck me. WHY.Anyhow, it was so interesting to learn about artists in that era and to be able to see a little of their closed world. I really liked Gilbert but that's no surprise for he is portrayed by Dan Stevens in the movie. However, I really can't stand Alfred Munnings. I know this is fiction, so please someone tells me I shouldn't dislike him that much. Because in the book, I can't. Moreover, I thought it was clumsy to have the book start in 1949, with only two chapters at that time, and the rest in the 1910s. Of course the whole story was set around that time BUT it would have given me more closure to end the book on a chapter set in 1949. It feels a bit unfinished to me.It was a decent historical novel but not the best. It's inspired by real events and while I knew how it would end because of it, I still cried. I'm quite excited to see the movie *whispers* because of Dan Stevens.

  • Trelawn
    2019-03-31 19:24

    This is the story of the artists colony at Lamorna, Cornwall in the early 20th century. While giving a general view of the artists, the story centres on the love triangle between the great artist Alfred Munnings, fellow artist Florence Carter Wood and Captain Gilbert Evans. Having read Churchill KBO by the same author I have to say I really enjoy his style. He makes historical figures come to life on the page. That sounds cheesey, I know, but when reading his books you can hear Churchill blustering away or Munnings drunkenly quoting Poe as though you were in the room with them. This is both engaging and disconcerting but makes for entertaining reading. Would certainly recommend this.

  • erica
    2019-04-09 23:19

    I loved reading this book. The older I get the more I notice whether I pick up a book because I think the subject is interesting or whether I like the writing style and won't be able to put it down. Summer in February is a perfect example of why one should never have to choose between the two. The format isn't 100% linear and Smith never has to spell out the obvious pieces. He trusts the reader with the plot and characters- clearly a well structured book. Still, it is highly readable, with brief, dreamy scenic passages and engaging plot and intriguing characters. As an artist, I was immediately inspired by Munnings'opening speech. Perhaps the best thing about this book, which I've yet to encounter before, is that the artists read- they speak and act- as artists. Too often, stories about artists get it wrong and the characters and their words are a cliche of what non-artists imagine. This book had the perfect balance of entertainment and artistic substance for me.

  • Cathy
    2019-04-13 00:25

    This is a beautifully written book about real people and gives a fascinating insight into the Cornish art community of the 1920's. The author deals with a tragic situation very sympathetically. This isn't the sort of book I would usually read but I am very glad I did.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-04 20:21

    Mostly just a drawn-out love triangle, Summer in February is set in an early twentieth-century artist colony. Based around actual people, Florence Carter-Wood, the woman at the center of the triangle, is little more than the Edwardian version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s not developed enough as a character in her own right, so we’re given no insight into her choices or thoughts, leaving her as a beautiful-but-blank canvas on which the men of the story can craft their own narratives.That could actually work as a story, but there’s no awareness to indicate that Mr. Smith intended that sort of comment. Instead it feels like it’s a story about men and their relationships – and even that’s flimsy – and, oh yeah, how women muck everything up. Silly women! Book: Not recommended.As for the film adaptation, the cast’s talent is woefully underused, and none of the characters are sufficiently developed to explain their actions. Also not recommended.

  • Tweedledum
    2019-03-31 20:47

    Summer in February explores the relationships between a group of artists living and working at in and around Lamorna Cove near Penzance during the early art of the C20. This group included Alfred Mumnings and Laura Knight both of whom were to receive high honours for their work with Munnings being knighted and rising to become President of the RA while Laura Knight was the first woman artist to receive an OBE. When the author began to discover and explore the tragedy of the death of Munnings' wife, who committed suicide in July 1914, but who is hardly mentioned in either Laura Knoght's autobiography or that of Munnings, he uncovered the extra-ordinary story that Smith tells with deep sensitivity and empathy in this book. Personally I found it a riveting read. Having joined the artists' community with her brother, Florence Carter-Wood (Blote) entered into marriage with Alfred Munnings entirely of her own free will, appearing to have become fascinated enough by him to agree to an engagement. Yet, bizarrely enough, she first attempted suicide on her wedding night itself, having previously obtained the poison to do so. She survived this attempt and both her friends and husband thought that she had moved on. A film has been made of the book and the film attempts to shed some light on the raison d'être behind Florence's first suicide attempt but surely this must remain pure speculation. Perhaps this is why people love novels. In a novel the author can explain human actions in a myriad of ways. But in reality suicide can rarely be fully comprehended or understood and always leaves those who knew and loved the victim deeply emotionally scarred. Often they spend many years searching hopelessly for answers. Part of the author's skill in this book is that he makes no attempt to explain or give answers for the prurient reader. He presents the facts as they were known and understood by Florence's friends and husband in an oblique and delicate way and makes no assumptions nor forces us to any conclusions. We may infer that the tragedy of her death clearly weighed heavily on the lives of those who loved her and were closest to her. Indeed their silence on the subject powerfully suggests this. They forbore to speculate, to justify, to excuse or to condemn. We may infer that Florence's naivety and strict upbringing ill-equipped her for the roller coaster of emotions she experienced when she moved to Lamorna,but in the end, we, observers almost from another universe, so distant does the early C21 seem from the motives and mores of the C20, can no more know the answers than they could. Instead Jonathan Smith invites us to enter into their world, to feel and see the excitement, the frustrations, the longings, the restrictions of the members of that community. And what a rich community it is. Rich in spirit, in creativity, in joie de vivre. Entering into the world we feel the tragedy, the grief, the loss in part....only in part..... And we wonder how those who were so close to Florence bore it. The suicide of one beautiful young woman on the eve of WW1 was perhaps quickly subsumed into the greater tragedy of that hideous conflict. But it may be that it also spurred those people on to a greater sense of purpose and focus in their lives.

  • Toni Allen
    2019-03-25 16:38

    If you're interested in art and enjoy discovering more about the personal lives of artists then you'll enjoy Summer in February. Although this is not a biography Jonathan Smith did extensive original research in order to write the most convincing story about Alfred Munnings, world famous painter of horses, and his life in the artistic community in Lamorna, Cornwall, at the beginning of the 20th Century. Summer in February is a snapshot in time, covering only a few years prior to the outbreak of WW1 and revolving around the love triangle between Munnings, Florence and the estate manager Gilbert Evans.Jonathan Smith evokes a wonderful sense of scene. When reading the book you can smell the tang of the sea air mingled with the artist's turpentine. All the characters are well portrayed and by the end of the book you feel that you know them all personally, their desires, their motivations and their passions.Summer in February has now been made into a film starring Dominic Cooper as AJ Munnings, Dan Stevens as Gilbert Evans and Emily Browning as Florence Carter-Wood. It's due to be released in 2013.

  • Erika Schotty
    2019-03-27 17:19

    I saw the movie first, and it seemed to be missing a piece of the story, which left me intrigued to read the book. I didn't understand Florence's character; why she made the decisions she did; and I was hoping the book would give more insight. It did not, as the story is told through the men (mainly Gilbert), switching between first and third person. This lack of detail on Florence makes more sense in the book, as the men would not be able to know everything she is thinking or feeling, but it made me lack empathy for Florence. I only felt it for Gilbert, whose character I love. Overall, I found the book to be an enjoyable read.

  • Emma
    2019-03-23 16:25

    I read this book a while ago. It is set in the valley where my mother lives. My Great Aunt Ella Naper and her husband Charlie where part of the Lamorna School of artists and life long friend of the Knights. I enjoyed reading this tragic story especially as I grew up hearing the names of many of the protagonists.

  • Ann
    2019-04-12 20:37

    took a little while to get into but I loved the characters except for one. To think that this is a true story written from a diary makes it even more heart rendering/frustrating and also made me want to do research on the characters.

  • Chloe (Paint and Butterflies Books)
    2019-04-02 00:43

    A cannot tell you how much I love this book, a true story about the Lamorna artist community just before the first world war. A well researched novel taken from one of main characters (Gilbert Evans') diaries. A story of talent, love and sorrow. I would definitely recommend and when you're done watch the film! To see more reviews and things check out my blog -

  • Dolf Patijn
    2019-04-15 18:19

    Absolutely brilliant. A beautiful book about a painters colony in Cornwall in the early 20th century. In this book you feel transported back in time. The language has the feel of the early 20th century.This book has loads of atmosphere. Loved it.NB: even though Jonathan Smith used real people for his book, it is still a work of fiction. The nice thing is that you can look up some of the paintings and people mentioned in the book on Google.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-26 21:42

    I don't normally read romantic novels, and I read this one because of the film which is screening in June, but this book totally got me. It is very beautifully written and heart breaking. I know nothing about art or the artists, but am now looking forward to the film. Dan Stevens would play a convincing Gilbert. Dominic Cooper...he even looks like the same sort of person as A.J.Munnings.

  • Liz Fenwick
    2019-04-09 22:26

    I loved this book. It was evocative and captured a long lost world of painters in Cornwall. Smith builds the story through the different view points and captures you in the world. I think the only difficulty I found was the motivation of one of the main characters but that was not Smith's fault. He had to stick to the fact of the actual events. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

  • Christine
    2019-04-07 18:22

    A sad but thoughtful book. I wanted to shake the main characters to stop them making such a mess of their lives. Based on a true story of AJ Munnings and some of his fellow artists in Cornwall in the early 1900's just before the WW1. Florence is tragic and naive but everyone loves her. A slow book but enjoyable in a mellow way.

  • Jane
    2019-04-10 16:18

    Great read based on an actual artists' colony in England in the early 1900's. The characters, too, are fictional recreations of actual people, several artists who lived in the colony. It's a dark subject, and the writing is beautiful. Has been made into a movie that I'd love to see.

  • Jess
    2019-03-20 22:37

    For me this was one of those books I couldn't put down and was sorry when it finished.

  • Olwen
    2019-03-21 19:37

    I borrowed this book from the library on the strength of it's cover - it said it had been made into a film, and I recognized one of the actors pictured on the front as Matthew from Downton Abbey. As I read the book, I regretted my decision, and if it weren't for the Reading Challenge, I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it. I'm glad I perservered, as I did get more involved at Gilbert's diary entry after the afternoon of roller-skating and the following chapter. The chapter "Putting Together the Pieces" had me racing to the end to find out what happened to everyone.

  • Debbie
    2019-03-31 16:22

    A very good read, with lots of human interest, based on the true life story of a group of artists in Cornwall, before the First World War.

  • Andrea Torrejón
    2019-03-27 17:27

    First of all, I had to make a paper cover for this book. I bought it in a charity shop (as usual) and it had the cover with the actors of the movie (sigh).There is nothing that annoys me more than imagining the faces of the characters as the actors. It spoils the fun. For the new cover I chose a quite minimalistic-geometrical-abstract paper.And then, the book starts with the 1949 retirement speech of Sir Alfred Munnings, painter and president of the Royal Academy of Arts, taking a piss on Modern art and the new wave of artistes. The choice of covering paper turned out to be a great accidental joke.Though I pretty much agree with a lot of what Mr Munnings was trying to say. When I started reading the book I did not know who A.J.Munnings was. Or Laura and Harold Knight. I never heard of the Newlyn group at all!.After the first chapters my curiosity won and I googled every one of their names. And there they were! Their faces in photographs or paintings made by each other. A.J, Ev, Blote, Laura, Harold... their clothes, posture, countenance, weight. I could forget about the faces of "Mr Downtown Abbey" and "Miss Narnia", and see their true appearance. Blimey the were brilliant BRILLIANT artists that captured colour and light and the shining of a horse, and painted trees like trees, and stayed in the outside under rain or sun to capture the movement of a cloud. In Spain we have Sorolla, It was lovely to find his English equals.Ok, it's still a story about a love triangle. Or more like a love duet and very bad decision making. But feels real (and it was, though fictionalised here), and it breathes, and it makes me very envious and want to transport myself to Lamorna in the early twentieth century to breathe paint and sea, and watch such a charismatic douchebag like Munnings (artists, the rockstars of the past) on the job, smashing his brush against a canvas smelling like beer and reciting Poe. Maybe possessing the soul of Laura Knight, "How to be John Malkovich style". We artists now days are more boring. Very individualistic. Working at home or at studios in our little cave. I'm jealous. I can see why Jonathan Smith also wrote the screenplay and it was turned into a movie. His writing is very cinematographic. He is not over descriptive and he gives volume to the characters. I liked it. Because it discovered me a whole new art group and it gave me insights of their humanity when all that is left from them is the life they captured in canvas and paint, hanging in some art gallery's wall.

  • Jonathon
    2019-03-27 19:22

    [review to come]

  • Jane
    2019-03-30 18:47

    It took me a little longer than usual to finish a book this long. If I was more interested in it, I probably would have finished it in one afternoon, but some of the time I felt there was a bit too much narration and not enough dialogue. I'm a dialogue freak. I love the interaction between the characters. The funny story about getting myself to read this book was the fact that I had seen the previews of the film adaptation which really got me interested. I immediately searched for it online and found out there was a book. I told myself I had to read the book before watching the film, so I bought the eBook. I started on a Monday and ended at 3 AM on Wednesday.I didn't feel the love story evolve until probably halfway through the book. That's when I found more romance being evident in the characters. I wasn't too fond of Florence. I found too wandering, and at times wondered if she was in her right state of mind. I felt more sorry for AJ and Gilbert by the end of the book. Overall, the story was very haunting, there was a bit of humorous moments throughout, I believe to lighten the mood a little. The story was well-written and wonderful imagery was used to describe the scenery which made the reading all the more enjoyable. 4 STARS for a well-written, romantic drama.

  • Julie
    2019-04-18 00:32

    Summer in February is a story of a love triangle between Alfred Munnings, an eccentric painter, Florence Carter-Wood, "Boticelli' Venus" and Gilbert Evans, Captain who fought in the Boer War.The story takes place in Cornwall and gives an insight into the artistic comunity in 1913. When a painter, Florence, known otherwise as "Blote" arrives to see her brother, Jimmy to Cornwall she is the talk of the town. Beautiful just like Boticelli's Venus, she catches eye of two men- A.J and Gilbert. While A.J. is an eccentric and raw, Gilbert is polite, courteous and kind. Alfred paints Florence "Blote" on a horseback and calls the painting "Morning Ride". Before Gilbert has the chance to reveal his feelings to Florence, news arrive that she is already engaged with Alfred. Heartbroken, he suffers in silence. But there seems to be something going on. Florence takes poison on their wedding night and barely survives. While A.J. travels, it is Gilbert who's there for Florence, and she soon realises what mistake she's made.Beautiful, sad love story. Very much enjoyed it. I can't wait to see the film with Dan Stevens and Emily Browning.

  • Andrew
    2019-04-19 00:22

    A novel of a series of dramatic relationships between artists & models, & their friends, in undeveloped Edwardian Cornwall, its powerful vortex, the once-famous but largely now forgotten, Alfred Munnings, a painter renowned for his fine equine studies & tempestuous moods! Smith captures a world on the cusp of monumental social & technological changes in a landscape of timeless beauty, where little has changed for a hundred years, & natural forces can roam almost unchecked.But in the central triangular relationship of Munnings,his beautiful, but unworldly wife Florence & the semi-narrator, Gilbert Evans,a decent man, but no artist, of his particular class & time; it is those natural forces that create havoc with all their lives. Based on real events in the topsy-turvy artistic world of pre-1914, this is a very good read for anyone with an interest in art, & its often difficult, creation. Alfred Munnings' paintings are almost an extra-mural character in this dramatic tale of stifled, tortured & tangled lives.

  • Nicole N. (A Myriad of Books)
    2019-04-13 21:41

    I was ready to put this book down after the first chapter. I was glad I didn't though although it did take me a few chapters to get into it.It wasn't the plot necessarily that kept me reading. It was the characters. The contrast between Alfred and Gilbert was truly flawless. What Alfred was, Gilbert was the opposite and they both had somewhat dark secrets that were character flaws but more so with Alfred. Then you have Florence who is described as beautiful as Botticelli's Venus rising from the sea foam. She is rich and a bit naive. She stands between two friends but you're never quite sure who she's going to choose and at the last moment she picks the one you wouldn't expect which for me was quite sad. If I write too much it'll be spoilers so it won't so that, lol. But I would say this books reminds of the modernist moving taking place during the time period of the book, pre-WW1. I guess I should have expected that.

  • Deb
    2019-03-31 23:21

    This book has received many 4 and 5 star reviews, but I just could not get into it. Based on a true story, this novel tells the story of a love triangle between painters A.J. Munnings, Florence Carter-Wood, and estate manager Gilbert Evans. It takes place in Lamorna, Cornwall just before WWI. The book depicts the thriving art colony in the area and provides insight into the art movement of the time. Unfortunately, I was not drawn to any of the characters, and the passivity of the narrator annoyed me. Perhaps it was the wrong book at the wrong time for me--sometimes I don't want to work at "getting" a novel. This may have been one of those times.