The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War

A Novel

eBook - 2016
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community."—The Washington PostNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST • The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love on the eve of World War I that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is set. East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England's brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha's husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master. When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking—and attractive—than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha's reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war. Praise for The Summer Before the War "What begins as a study of a small-town society becomes a compelling account of war and its aftermath."—Woman's Day "This witty character study of how a small English town reacts to the 1914 arrival of its first female teacher offers gentle humor wrapped in a hauntingly detailed story."—Good Housekeeping "Perfect for readers in a post–Downton Abbey slump . . . The gently teasing banter between two kindred spirits edging slowly into love is as delicately crafted as a bone-china teacup. . . . More than a high-toned romantic reverie for Anglophiles—though it serves the latter purpose, too."—The Seattle Times "[Helen Simonson's] characters are so vivid, it's as if a PBS series has come to life. There's scandal, star-crossed love and fear, but at its heart, The Summer Before the War is about loyalty, love and family."—AARP: The Magazine "This luminous story of a family, a town, and a world in their final moments of innocence is as lingering and lovely as a long summer sunset."—Annie Barrows, author of The Truth According to Us and co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society "Simonson is like a Jane Austen for our day and age—she is that good—and The Summer Before the War is nothing short of a treasure."—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun
Publisher: 2016
ISBN: 9780679644644
Characteristics: 1 online resource

Opinion

From Library Staff

The War is World War I and this story takes place in a small English village where everyone knows everyone’s business and the new school teacher finds herself in the middle of the local aristocrat’s sometimes mundane, sometimes crucial but always engaging interactions. - Sara


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g
glotet
Jun 19, 2019

I found the first 100 pages a bit of a challenge, but hung in there because of the favourable reviews. It wasn’t until I completed reading before I realized that what seemed arduous reading at the beginning was actually laying the ground for what was to come.
So I returned to the beginning 100 pages and read them thoroughly this time.

i
Inga57
Mar 07, 2019

Kindle Immersion Read
Helen Simonson does it again! She's created a vivid picture of the time and painted lovely characters to tell the story.

t
trude31
Nov 27, 2018

A great read. This stands out among other books with similar subject matter. Great character descriptions with some droll humour . I could not stop reading til I finished it.
The settings are authentic in the details, of the early 20th century.

e
EAEccher
Nov 26, 2018

A slog. Endless descriptions of what characters wore and ate. Read Simonson's source materials instead.

b
Bonnie_Schultz
Jul 17, 2018

I loved this novel! It took me awhile to get involved in it, as it started somewhat slowly. It was a different book than "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand," which was a great read and absorbing right from the beginning.

Apparently there are some anachronisms, such as Agatha and other characters wanting to be addressed by their first names, but that is more the fault of the editor than Helen Simonson (editor? what's that?). A big point is made at the oppression women faced at the time, all too real, given that they did not yet even have the right to vote. I was a bit disappointed that Beatrice Nash, obviously a smart, spirited young woman, didn't speak up at various points in the novel, but there you go.

The depictions of WWI and its brutal effects on the English are heartrending. Simonson portrays well the fatuousness of those in the population who thought enlisting was some sort of lark or adventure. "Testament of Youth" was one of the books used as a source for her novel.

Anyway, if you are interested in this period and in English village life, you won't be disappointed. Well-written with vivid descriptions, and a light and at times comic touch.

l
Lilybug062
May 25, 2018

Wonderful story !

j
jkline1
Aug 24, 2017

Great book. The reader "lives" in a small town in England and meets its inhabitants. The book concentrates on the summer before WWI and how the upcoming war effects its inhabitants. I felt like I really got to know the characters as well as the time period. I would recommend this book. (A bit long, though, at 615 pgs. - e-book edition. Make sure you have plenty of time to read it. )

t
tedperry
Aug 15, 2017

Loved this book in all its delicious, 'plodding' detail. Although I wasn't around in 1914, have certainly read enough books set in that time frame to know that many people really were like this.
For those who don't read much, Downton Abbey certainly portrayed some of the social customs of that time.

CRRL_MegRaymond Jul 25, 2017

1914. The last lovely summer in East Sussex. Beatrice Nash arrives to teach Latin - who knew she would be so young and so beautiful?

l
lcassity
Mar 23, 2017

With the anniversary of America's entry into WWI approaching, this book is a timely and spellbinding read. My grandfather talked of WWI and his comments made the book seem more personal. I put off reading this book for several months and that was a mistake. It's enjoyable and informative. Give it a try if historical fiction is something you read.

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