"I just love your Muskoka novels. Just recently, I attended the War Museum in Ottawa and with your characters in mind, I could see Chas flying high in his plane! Attaching a soul to the stories and pictures we looked at brought a whole new human meaning to me. It was no longer something we once learned about in school - it had a face, a life, a love and a tragedy." - Susan Ross, Peterborough ON
"I could not put this book down! The characters, many of which won my affection in the first novel, are so vivid and real that they feel like old friends. Every page is filled with a bevy of emotions, ranging from despair and foreboding regarding the horrible war, to elation and hope for the future. Wills' writing made me feel like I wasn't even reading words on a page, but actually experiencing everything along with the characters themselves." - Ashley Katsuyama, NY
"WOW! Congratulations Gabriele on your splendid book Elusive Dawn.... I had two uncommitted days to dedicate to your marvelous book. What a masterpiece. What a talent. You are really a romantic!!! Yes, I cried.... It is truly great to read about our splendid history and you are a magnificent story teller. There are books I've read about the founding of our country that I couldn't put down and others that were so dry I couldn't read them. Thanks for your wonderful talent. I look forward to Book 3 of the 'Muskoka Novels'." - Trudy Davis, Guelph ON
"Congratulations on another captivating and well researched book! Elusive Dawn is a wonderful read! Through The Summer Before The Storm, and now Elusive Dawn, we have come to know a whole new family...characters that are so real we can't help but be affected by their lives. We've laughed with them, cried with them, felt their fears, anxieties and pain...shared their joy and their sorrow. You have a great talent, combining fact and fiction into a fascinating, engrossing tale of love, loss, inner strength, hope and the power of faith. Elusive Dawn is truly a tribute to our Canadian forces and those behind the scenes who executed, so bravely and unselfishly, their committment to the war effort. Thanks for this great story! I often find myself thinking about 'our new family' and what you may have in store for them. You always leave us wanting more! Can't wait for Book 3!" - Nancy Graham, Lindsay, ON
"Please accept my congratulations on an engrossing novel. Once begun, it was impossible to put down. Because of last year's anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, I have read much of the recent writing about that cataclysmic First World War battle. But that writing did not capture the terror, the mud or the wastage of human life in the detail or degree that you managed to capture in Elusive Dawn. I have also read most of the writings of Billy Bishop and his son, Arthur, and others about the air battle of that First World War. Again, you captured those terrifying moments as they must have been with the agony of a flaming crash.... I commend you on both the mountain of detail of research and the skill with which you handle it and achieve an extremely lifelike sense of the moment. And, I can envision a huge organizational chart above your computer, as you strive the keep track of all of the members of the ever-expanding families and historical personalities you reference. Monumental. Congratulations!!! Needless-to-say, I look forward with great anticipation to the next volume of your Muskoka Novels." - Bill Rathbun, Gravenhurst ON
"When I read the Muskoka Novels I couldn't put the books down, and even though I've read them several times now I'm still unable to put them down. I am drawn into their world and I find myself still captivated by every detail. This series is absolutely fantastic. It is everything I want in a book and cannot wait for the next addition to the series. " - Katelyn Walton
"It is hard to choose the right words to convey to you how wonderful your books are. First and foremost, the characters have become 'friends' who I would like to meet. Your writing skill enables the characters to come alive and join the list of the famous heroes and heroines of the classics. Secondly, your research into the culture and events of the times is so thorough… While reading both books, I was torn between wanting to read continuously to see what was going to happen, and not wanting the book to end.... I was glad to see that you are continuing with the lives of these great characters, but will now be impatient to read the next book.... I learned so much about the First World War from reading the books and your writings bring it alive. I have never been fond of reading about wars from factual and history books. For me, once there are names and faces attached and people's stories, the history takes on a whole new dimension.... It is also fascinating to see the evolution of the roles of women and how the social manners and expectations have changed. I think you have a gift for writing quality and substance.... I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the Muskoka Series." - Anne Wright, Guelph, Ontario
"I have just finished your most recent novel, Elusive Dawn. How thoroughly I enjoyed the story! It was a match for the previous three. I marvel at your skill in developing so many interesting characters. Your magnificent description of people, places, and events is tremendous. My father served in France during World War 1, and was hospitalized due to influenza. How alive this section of your story became for me! Thank you for sharing your love of writing with so many people." - Evelyn R. McLean, Lindsay ON
"The Summer Before The Storm and Elusive Dawn are not only well written, suspenseful, and enjoyable, but also historically accurate. The amazing amount of research provides an excellent educational background on the Great War and on aviation. The writer obviously has a keen interest in and knowledge of the subject." - Arthur Bishop, WWII pilot and author, son of Billy Bishop, VC, Britain's top WWI Ace (who makes an appearance in Elusive Dawn)
"Gabriele Wills' novels, including Moon Hall and A Place To Call Home, as well as her Muskoka Novels, The Summer Before The Storm and Elusive Dawn, all share one thing: they provide one of the best portraits of a particular era and the region in which they are set. In A Place To Call Home, the early days of the town of Lindsay, Ontario, come alive as they never have before. In the Muskoka novels, the author's meticulous research and her narrative skills present an unforgettable portrait of the Muskoka region of Ontario, its residents and its wealthy summer visitors, all caught up in the vortex that inevitably pulls them and their sons into The Great War. As the War carries on, families receive word of lost and wounded sons. The reader is moved along quickly for the author never lets her research hinder the appealing narrative. The author's skilful, seamless blending of fact and fiction, of 'real' characters, such as Prime Minister Borden and Lady Eaton, with purely fictional characters such as the Wyndhams, reminds me of the novels of E.L. Doctorow, Guy Vanderhaeghe and Wayne Johnston. Small wonder that her many readers have exclaimed about each novel by this wonderful writer, 'I just couldn't put it down.'" Wills deserves to be as well known as Doctorow, Vanderhaeghe and Johnston. I look forward to the next Gabriele Wills' novel." - Dr. R.B. Fleming, historian and biographer
"I read both the first and second novels in your Muskoka series... I can't imagine not reading more to find out what happens with all the characters. I don't easily get engrossed in a novel but with these two books, I really felt I was living in the past during the first world war. The main characters were so endearing that I really feel that I know them. I could easily picture them as though they were real people. Your writing is fabulous and the historical fiction is extremely interesting to me. I really hope you can continue writing this series. I've been left hanging for the last several months. I think a publisher would be crazy not to publish these novels for you." - Sherri Ascroft-Boyd
"I have enjoyed immensely reading A Place to Call Home, Moon Hall, The Summer Before the Storm, and most recently, Elusive Dawn. I am now hooked on the Muskoka Novel series! I feel as though I have been going through withdrawal since finishing the last book, and am desperate to read the third novel in the series. It must be a tremendous amount of work to accomplish all the research that goes into each of your works of literature, let alone the actual writing of it. It is evident to anyone who reads your work, that thorough research went into each book. I am fascinated by the characters you have created and developed, and am especially impressed with the referral to actual historical events and people (both of Canada and abroad). You knit them all so seamlessly into the stories as they develop. One of the things that really draws me to your novels is the rich social history that you have managed to incorporate. There is something special in reading about local history, people and places ...and actually recognizing them. The familiarity sends a warm, fuzzy feeling through the reader. If high schools would use your novels as their reference for their curriculum, rather than the typically dry history text books, I am sure that students would take a much keener interest in the subject. After all, it is always much easier and much more interesting to read about things that are familiar! I have been sharing each novel with my Mom as soon as I have finished it myself, and have been singing your praises and recommending your novels to all friends and acquaintances. I find with many books, that I have to get beyond a certain chapter or number of pages before I can really invest myself in the book. With your writing style, however, I do not have that problem! Upon reading The Summer Before the Storm, you had my interest right from the first paragraph. All your subsequent and previous masterpieces were equally enthralling, with an easy flow. One can never be disappointed with your work, Gabriele!" - Deborah Sherlaw
"Congratulations, Gabriele - you have created another masterpiece! Your characters and the War are so very real. Having read The Summer Before The Storm and now Elusive Dawn, I cannot help but think of our Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Thanks for sharing your talents with your readers. I am so proud to say that I know a Canadian Author. I look forward to Book 3 of 'The Muskoka Novels." - Marie North, Courtice, ON
"The characters we came to love in The Summer Before The Storm, the first volume of Gabriele Wills' planned trilogy, THE MUSKOKA NOVELS, we revisit in the second volume, Elusive Dawn. In this one a selected group of them is engaged in World War 1 in England and France as combatants or volunteer workers. Connection back to the first novel is created by references to what had been life shaping happenings in summers in Muskoka. Actually these memories and reminiscences are a spiritual sustenance, a soul solace, during their war experiences. Muskoka, a "civilized wilderness", represents a "normality" they hope to experience again.
Elusive Dawn is very much a Muskoka novel. The characters are temporarily transplanted Muskokans. They are in constant communication with one another. And one saves the life of another with a blood transfusion.
Victoria (Ria) continues to defy the stereotyping of that time in history of females. She was not a suffragette. What she did was push the boundaries in other ways. She flew planes and drove an ambulance, fully aware of the dangers. Other strong female characters were Zoë, Ria's cousin, a nursing volunteer and Ellie, a fellow Muskokan who studied medicine in Canada. All of them have problems in their love lives.
The author has done prodigious research into every aspect of her novel .. domestic detail, landscape (flora and fauna, sights, smells), architecture, air warfare, battlefields, battles, trenches, field hospitals and rehabilitation centres, injuries and their treatment and the whole spectrum of emotional states .. loneliness, awareness of mortality, terror, shell shock and post traumatic stress. And not to be overlooked .. the wartime songs, British class consciousness and the British perception of Canadians as colonials.
The reader becomes immersed in the lives of her characters and suffers and rejoices with them. Canada is ever present with Jack commissioned by Lord Beaverbrook to record the war in paintings. And letters from family at home in Canada keep Muskoka alive. Phoebe's schizophrenia keeps everyone there on the alert.
The reader expects that volume 3 will deal with the NEW problematic situations and the OLD problematic relationships that the characters face on their return to Canada. The DAWN of normality is still ELUSIVE." - Muriel Cluett, Toronto, ON
|The Muskoka Novels||