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The Summer Before the War: A Novel by [Simonson, Helen]
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4.0 out of 5 stars 1,382 customer reviews

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Length: 497 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Among the throngs of Americans who devoted themselves to the British historical drama Downton Abbey are a respectable number of young adult enthusiasts. Those teens may have cut their teeth on print historical fiction and count themselves among the acolytes of Jane Austen or the Brontës. This novel's setting is not the grand estate, nor are its characters of the upstairs and downstairs dichotomy. Instead, it features progressive Beatrice Nash, newly arrived to Rye to take on a Latin teaching position. After the death of her scholarly father, she has found employment to gain independence from his family who control what money she has inherited. In Rye, she finds herself championed by Agatha Kent, a woman who would never count herself among the blue stockings but who is nonetheless a force in the town. Beatrice is welcomed by Agatha's two nephews, one a poet and one just finishing his training as a surgeon. Hugh, the doctor, is particularly kind to Beatrice as she faces challenges such as an unpleasant landlady, unscrupulous solicitors, and reluctant pupils. The German invasion of Belgium in 1914 heralds England's going to war and brings refugees, like the lovely blonde Celeste, whom Beatrice takes in. Like no summer before it, this last one before the Great War is revealed in the day-to-day lives of Miss Nash and her newly adopted neighbors. VERDICT A perfect choice for teens who enjoy detailed historical fiction and BBC television serials.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA

Review

“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
 
“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

“At once haunting and effervescent, The Summer Before the War demonstrates the sure hand of a master. Helen Simonson’s characters enchant us, her English countryside beguiles us, and her historical intelligence keeps us at the edge of our seats. 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
 
“Helen Simonson has outdone herself in this radiant follow-up to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. The provincial town of Rye, East Sussex, in the days just before and after the Great War is so vividly drawn it fairly vibrates. The depth and sensitivity with which she weighs the steep costs and delicate bonds of wartime—and not just for the young men in the trenches, but for every changed life and heart—reveal the full mastery of her storytelling. 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

“A bright confection of a book morphs into a story of dignity and backbone. . . . This book is beautifully plotted and morally astute.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Simonson’s second novel paints a sensitive, witty, luminous portrait of England at the outbreak of World War I.”Shelf Awareness

“This novel is just the ticket for fans of Simonson’s debut, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, and for any reader who enjoys leisurely fiction steeped in the British past.”Booklist

Product details

  • File Size: 7064 KB
  • Print Length: 497 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (March 22, 2016)
  • Publication Date: March 22, 2016
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0104EOGGK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,787 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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