Friday, March 25, 2016
I have been reading what seems like a lot of good books, and this is another one. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson is wonderful.
This book takes place in the seaside village of Rye, beginning in the summer of 1914. It brings together (Aunt) Agatha Kent, her husband John, their nephews Hugh and Daniel, the new Latin instructor Beatrice Nash, the Mayor, his wife, the local gentry, Lady Emily and Colonel Wheaton and a young man, called Snout, who is part gypsy. Over the course of the book, the world seems peaceful and full of possibilities, then war breaks out. The village welcomes refugees from Belgium, some more welcome than others, and sends some of its sons to war in various ways. There are parades, fetes, and dances, all to raise money for the war effort.
This is a meaty book, told from several points of view. I enjoyed all of the characters, except the mayor's wife (I don't think anyone is supposed to like her). I didn't read this as fast as some of the others I've been reading, and it seemed a book to be savored this way. Out of concern for several characters, I did keep checking ahead, not finding out too much, but just enough to encourage me. I was pretty happy with the end of the book too.
I highly recommend this book!
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, Random House, March 22, 2016; ISBN 9780812993103
This book was sent to me for review by the publisher; no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review.