Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow

Gwen Bristow’s classic Southern novel tells of the first forays of a family of settlers in deep Louisiana. The Sheramys travelled from Connecticut to what they call then as West Florida in the 1880s to claim a land property. As they cruised along the Mississippi River, they happened to meet a dashing young man who fancied the Sheramy daughter, Judith.  

Originally published in 1937 and the first book in Plantation Trilogy, Deep Summer is mostly the story of Judith Sheramy and Phillip Larne when they first started building their plantation, Ardeith. 

Filled with languid prose and gripping details of slavery in the Deep South, Bristow writes with gentle genuineness but without reluctance. It evokes a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia and painful truths as the author chose to delve down and explore each character’s potentials and presented a spitting image of the struggles of planters and slaves.

What remained to me after reading it is that the characters are quite redeemable. In the beginning, I almost felt protective of Judith from Philip; however, in the end I made my peace with Philip and found myself feeling distant with Judith. My heart still breaks for  Ben and wished his story is different. In a way, there seem to be no true villain or true hero here. Each emotional upheaval simply mirrors that they are only human in their weaknesses and strengths and I think that is the searing beauty of this book.


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.

Title: Deep Summer (Plantation Trilogy Book One)
Author: Gwen Bristow
Genre: Historical, American South
Published: May 2014 (first published 1937)
Publisher: Open Road Media
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups - It captures the drowsy summer heat of the Deep South.)