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The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love and war that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is setEast 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. I absolutely loved the book Major Pettigrew's Last Stand so when I heard that author Helen Simonson wrote a second book I was thrilled to have the chance to read an early copy Unfortunately this book was a huge disappointmentSimonson's charm and wit which made Pettigrew so enjoyable are present in this book but they are buried among superfluous pages and words Rather than stand out they are lost in the shuffle There are far too many characters most of them indistinguishable from each other Eventually I stopped trying to keep them straight The elements of a good plot exist here but the story just muddles along I've read instruction manuals that were exciting This might have been an entirely different book with ruthless editing At 496 pages I'm wondering how much got left on the cutting room floor It easily could have been half the length which might have let the charm shine through and given space for the worthwhile characters to be developed At one point in the story there is reference to a book it was a dense tome printed in close set type as if the printer had struggled to sueeze its impossible length into some manageable slab of pages I felt that was apropos hereWhile the book left much to be desired it did provide much food for thought on the subject of refugees As part of the story the villagers need to decide whether to take in Belgian refugees and what form of hospitality to provide them I couldn't help but think of the parallels with today's Syrian refugees I do hope this book is an aberration and that Simonson continues to write I would certainly read her future books Many other reviewers seem to like this book so readers should consider other reviews and not just mine Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review

Summary The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the WarRt 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 w. How you go into a story your mindset and what you are expecting has a great impact on your enjoyment of the storyThe Summer Before the War is a slow paced read The characterization is brilliant The conversations the underlying sarcasm and nuances of the characters are all described in poetic detail I feel Simonson has written an astute study of personalities during this period 1913 – 1914 A time of doing what you must not what you wantAgatha Kent thought of herself as forward thinking but we see many times when even her progressiveness has its limits“Oh no Lady Marbely took pains to assure me she’s uite plain” said Aunt Agatha “I may be progressive but I would never hire a pretty teacher”“And just one thing Miss Nash” said Agatha as Beatrice moved toward the hall “I would not be public about any yearnings to write It would be an absolute disaster for a lady in your position to earn a reputation as a bohemian”I’m not usually a fan of great slabs of dialogue but the conversations were filled with wit and a hint of sarcasm and I couldn’t help but be enthralled and have a few chuckles as I readA slow paced yet delightful story like meandering through a garden on a summer’s dayIf you find this story slow going put it aside and pick it up again Your perseverance will be rewardedThe last 40 pages had me in tears When the emotion was added it was real I would read this book againNote Sometimes you need to read between the lines to get the full pictureI would like to thank Goodreads giveaways and Allen Unwin for my copy to read and review

Helen Simonson » 7 Free download

Free download The Summer Before the War 107 Í The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love and war that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is setEast Sussex 1914 It is the end of England's brief Edwardian summer and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful HForeign Office and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything And Agatha has 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 freethinking and attractive than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be For her pa. From the Epilogue overlooking Flanders Fields in 1920”Under her happiness ran a thin vein of sorrow that millions like her would feel down the years It did not stop their feet from walking or prevent the uotidian routines of life; but it ran in the population like the copper wires of the telephone system connecting them all to each other and to the tragedy that had ripped at their hearts just as it had ripped at the fields outside her window”Beatrice Nash has a small allowance from her father’s estate but it needs supplementing and she is determined to be an independent woman so she applies for a teaching position Latin Master – or Mistress in this case in Rye Sussex Her champion is Agatha Kent who has lobbied vigorously for females in the local school something that rarely happens in the world of 1914The author lived in Rye for several years when she was growing up which is likely why her descriptions are so vivid and why once again I felt that I was teleported into this village and all of its events both big and small There is an authenticity to Ms Simonson’s writing that evolves into both predictable and unexpected events just like in real life The people in her books are also genuine – some that I would love to sit and have a cup of tea with and others that I would tend to avoid if at all possible Again just like in real life I felt very much a part of everything the author wrote about in this book despite not being a part of that time and place in real lifeAgatha and John Kent have two nephews – Daniel and Hugh Daniel is a poet and Hugh is getting set for his final exam ualification to become a licensed surgeon They are both like surrogate sons for Agatha and John who didn’t have children of their ownThen John comes home one day to let the family know that Belgium has been viciously attacked by the Germans and that Britain is now at war The village also receives refugees from Belgium who will billet in various homes until they can return to their own country There was uite an impact when the refugees arrivedMaybe the village expected apple cheeked little ones needing a temporary home but they certainly did not expect to see the bedraggled beaten down huddle of humanity that made its slow procession from the train station to the Town HallEven Beatrice did her part and brought home a young girl whose father was staying with her neighbouring bachelor author who Beatrice revered Beatrice had arrived in the village early so she could get settled in well in advance of the school year Little did she know that many other events would crowd their way into her life – including the war with all its deprivationsI loved this book so much that I purposefully slowed down my reading process to make it last longer Helen Simonson is a talented writer who makes it look and feel so easy as the words flow across the page I became so wrapped up in the story that this novel became my “life within a life” for the durationThere was a six year gap between the author’s debut and this her second novel I fervently and selfishly hope that the gap time between this one and her next one is reduced by at least 75% I am very excited to move right in to the next story she creates