The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War

A Novel

Large Print - 2016
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Bestselling author Helen Simonson returns with a splendid historical novel full of the same wit, romance, and insight into the manners and morals of small-town British life as her beloved "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand." It's the summer of 1914 and life in the sleepy village of Rye, England is about to take an interesting turn. Agatha Kent is expecting an unusual candidate to be the school's Latin teacher: Beatrice Nash, a young woman of good breeding in search of a position after the death of her father. Agatha's nephews, meanwhile, have come to spend the summer months, as always, both with dreams of their own. When Hugh is sent to pick up Beatrice from the train station - life, of course, changes. Here, these characters and others we come to love and root for become characters we hope and pray for when the shadow of the Great War looms ever closer to home.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Random House Large Print, ©2016.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780451482112
Characteristics: 689 pages ;,24 cm.


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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. )

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?

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.

Mar 12, 2017

Couldn't put it down. Excellent historical fiction, historically accurate details. I love Simonson's aesthetic: dialogue, setting, dress, class and social structure. Many layered story, wonderfully branched out from the village of Rye, Sussex just before WWI and its beginning. Time of transition.

Any knowledge of this period of British history will simply make this not a good story, but a superb one. A time of transition - the character Daniel wants to be a poet, living in London, living a free life. "Bohemian" characters, a divorced man and wife, both writers, have moved to the country for a life free of scandal but the villagers are very conservative - these artists are typical of those like writers Vanessa Wolfe and Vita Sackville-Hays, artists Vanessa Bell and Augustus John who lived together in artist colonies, with their flowing clothing.
Women speaking up. The Status Quo turning their backs, before the Great War turned their world upside down.

I loved the characters. Shed a few tears, which surprised me. The novel saturated my senses, transported me.

Truly a treat for lovers of well-researched and character filled historical fiction. I had hesitated to read it because the reviews were so mixed. SO happy that I did - a real pleasure!

5.00 stars!

Feb 19, 2017

Did people really talk like that? Like all those people in the book? Did they really have those impossibly educated and highly elaborated conversations about their poems, bycicles, dinners and everyday life? The book is so annoyingly slow and pseudo intellectual. Painful. Loved Major Pittegrew, though.

Feb 13, 2017

This book is set in the same time and place as Downton Abbey which is what drew me to it, that time frame is filled with such an almost caste system it is very interesting to me. It was also a time of a newly forming suffragette movement when even the upper class women were against it. The income disparities are as far apart as they are becoming here in America. The lives of those in the middle of it all and those trying to better themselves the consequences of those trying to help those who are trying to better themselves is hard to believe.
There is a closeted gay who suffers many indignities from his lover's family which has grave consequences.
It has great, filled out characters and the story moves along at just the right pace. Looking for others from this author.

Jan 22, 2017

This is a fabulous book and it's made my short list of go-to books to give as gifts. I relished every moment I spent in the book! It is intelligent, charming, wise, witty, and has an engaging story line. Truly, it made me recollect my habit of considering excellent books as excellent friends. I haven't read a better book in years and I read a lot.

Sep 19, 2016

Beautifully written by an intelligent well read author. A diamond among the dross.

AL_ALICE Sep 01, 2016

Beautifully written, wonderful characters. As the story evolves, one sees how the great social upheaval during World War I moved England from the Edwardian Era into more modern times. By portraying relationships among characters in the small town of Rye, the author shows how the war tested everyone to their limits and how a very different England evolved.

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