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The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson


Overview - 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 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.  Read more...


 
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More About The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
 
 
 
Overview
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 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.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND NPR

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

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780812983203
  • ISBN-10: 0812983203
  • Publisher: Random House Trade
  • Publish Date: February 2017
  • Page Count: 512
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life

 
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TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Set in 1914, Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before the War is a beautifully rendered tale of Edwardian England. Hugh Grange, a medical student, is staying with his Aunt Agatha in the seaside village of Rye. Agatha flouts convention by supporting the selection of a female Latin instructor for Rye’s grammar school. The teacher, Beatrice Nash, is liberal-minded and independent, with ambitions of being a writer. Signaling the approach of the social changes that will soon transform England, Beatrice’s engagement as a teacher causes something of a stir in Rye. Hugh forms a friendship with her—a bond that blossoms despite the shadow of the coming war. This appealing period novel is richly detailed and sharply incisive. Against a backdrop of dramatic cultural upheaval, Simonson presents an unforgettable portrait of Rye, its inhabitants and its long-held customs, blending history and romance into an irresistible mix.

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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