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 PostThe 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
- ISBN-13: 9780812983203
- ISBN-10: 0812983203
- Publisher: Random House Trade
- Publish Date: February 2017
- Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
- Page Count: 512
Book clubs: A father's tragic legacy
Named one of the top novels of 2016 by Time and Newsday, Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone traces the influence of one man’s mental illness on the members of his family. In London, during the 1960s, Margaret is set to marry John when she learns of his chronic depression. Should she follow through with the wedding or call it off? Her decision to wed John is, in the end, a fateful one—a choice that has repercussions for the three children they raise together. Michael, their eldest, is a music lover with a delicate spirit; Celia, their resourceful daughter, is a social worker; and Alec, their determined, principled younger son, is a journalist. Over the years, as depression hounds both John and Michael, the clan struggles to stay together. Narrated by all five family members, Haslett’s novel is a searing portrait of a household founded on love but haunted by illness. Luminous prose, authentic characterizations and compassionate treatment of sensitive subject matter make this an absorbing family chronicle.
A YEAR ON THE BRINK
Nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Sunjeev Sahota’s haunting novel The Year of the Runaways follows four young immigrants as they make their way from India to England. Raised as an “untouchable,” Tochi arrives in England anticipating a better life, only to experience prejudice. Avtar, his housemate, sells a kidney to get out of India and dreams of earning a decent living. His girlfriend, Lakhpreet, has high hopes for their future. Her brother, Randeep, sets up a marriage with a British woman named Narinder in order to stay in England. Randeep finds himself falling for Narinder, but she keeps him at arm’s length. The novel chronicles a memorable year in their lives—a time when they struggle to adapt to new customs and make ends meet. Sahota is a writer of great emotional acuity who makes the reader care about his characters. He offers a nuanced account of the immigrant experience, capturing the anxiety, doubt and loneliness that come with assimilation.
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.