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The Summer Before the War

av Helen Simonson

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,5141139,205 (3.81)179
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.… (mer)
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I felt I was watching this play out as I read! This book has such a wonderful cast I think it could easily be turned into one of those period dramas the BBC do so well. Set during the last summer before the outbreak of WW1 carrying into the first few months of fighting. Village life, young men and women caught up in their innocent excitement of patriotism and an older generation, who, while needing to maintain the rules of society, can feel the beginnings of change. I found at times I couldn't put it down. ( )
  Fliss88 | Oct 18, 2021 |
Helen simonson has such a beautiful writing style. I loved the incorporation of the war poetry of Owen and wanted to crawl in the book to chat with Beatrice. The interactions between her characters and their charm remind me of Jane Austen's writing. The ending did seem abrupt to me though, and I felt the book could have been better paced. Overall, a fantastic read. ( )
  katethegreat44 | Sep 21, 2021 |
I liked Major Pettigrew, but this book just made me wish I was reading Angela Thirkell instead. Also, it was too long. A good editor would have been helpful. ( )
  emrsalgado | Jul 23, 2021 |
Helen Simonson’s The Summer Before the War is a wonderful novel that depicts life in Rye, an ancient and beautiful hillside port town in Sussex, England during the 1914 breakout of World War I and continues into the beginning of the War. Rye is a community of artists, writers, eminent and not so eminent townspeople, servants, refugees, and gypsies. Beatrice Nash arrives as a young woman hired as the Latin master of the local school. The hiring of a woman teacher (gasp!) was championed by the indomitable progressive Agatha Kent. Small town life teems with gossip and speculation. Women struggle against their repression in various levels, while balancing a desire to preserve their good reputations and tenuous positions. Beatrice meets Agatha’s nephews Hugh, a levelheaded young surgeon, narcissistic Daniel, a passionate poet, as well as her pupil, Snout, a half gypsy boy looking improve his station. Rye’s provincial society clings to their sustaining rituals of life. Outsiders and misfits are viewed as threats to their idyllic world and are suspect or shunned. The frivolousness of summer ends when the War breaks out and the brutal truth of its toll soon alters their peaceful lives and attitudes. You see a contrast that develops between what is held as important before the War, and what remains after all has fallen apart. The characters are amply drawn, although I was interested in a deeper embodiment of Beatrice, yet I came to care for them all, admiring their fine points, while understanding their flaws. The novel does start out slowly and builds. As a caution, there are some brutal and sad scenes that depict the cruelties of war. Yet the novel is balanced with light and shade. Simonson’s excellent writing immerses the reader in the time and place on the precipice of upheaval. She paints a vivid story of love, betrayal, honor, petty prejudices and a community that rises to the call of duty and country. I also recommend her earlier work Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which contains a very different setting, but also beautifully written. ( )
  AnnieMK | May 12, 2021 |
For those who are missing Downton Abbey, this is the antidote. Set in Rye, England in 1914, the story goes into great detail about the war's beginning (socially, not historically) and glides to a nice conclusion with the aftermath in the epilogue. Despite the serious subject, this is a comedy of manners and the portrayal of some of the characters like the local social climbing poet Mr. Tillingham and pompous Mayor Fathergill and his meddling wife Bettina is spot-on. As an audiobook the nuance in tone and meaning came through delightfully. The main thread of the story concerns Beatrice Nash, an intelligent well educated (therefore unmarriagable) young woman who has come to Rye to take a position as a Latin teacher in the local school. She is sponsored by John and Agatha Kent, local gentry who have no children but 2 nephews around Beatrice's age: Hugh Grange and Daniel Bookum. These young men are busy making plans for their lives and futures as a surgeon and poet respectively when the war intervenes. Rye also becomes a host to Belgian refugees, in particular Celeste and her professor father. This is another thread that gets tied up a little too neatly but serves a worthwhile purpose. The book takes on a lot of issues: nascent women's rights, homosexuality, war atrocity and rape, and the shifting class structure in Edwardian England. Though these are heavy, they are treated with a light hand and brought to life through authentic characters. The writing is beautiful and thoughtful and this makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read/listen. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
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Now Simonson is back with The Summer Before the War, a gentle comedy of provincial manners that rivals her first in the charm department...In The Summer Before the War, the novelist's attention to sensory detail is lovely, simple yet evocative.... Droll dialogue dominates, with gentle zingers regularly applied. There are the time-tested markers of small town life: a parade, a harvest festival, country dances....The contrast between pastoral peace and the violent chaos of war is what gives this novel its heft;
 
Rather than making characters sympathetic, this virtuous quirk prevents the reader from discovering the mild contradictions in human nature. And that is what we travel to social-comedy land to enjoy.
 

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Hardingham, FionaBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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The town of Rye rose from the flat marshes like an island, its tumbled pyramid of red-tiled roofs glowing in the slanting evening light.
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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.

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