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Friday, March 4, 2016

The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson

The year of 1914 was obviously going to be one of significant importance for the whole world. In the corner of England in the idyllic village of Rye however everyone hoped that things would just continue the way they would. Life unfortunately did change for all.

Agatha Kent has brought forward a proposal to replace the current Latin master in the school with a lady teacher. A lady teaching Latin was preposterous for almost all but Agatha pushed that through. Beatrice Nash our teacher was not a run of the mill timid woman, willing to get brow beaten by all. Her father's last will had sadly put her under the control of several others who would use all their power to get her to do things which would be of benefit to them. She would suffer financially otherwise and here she was in a bind. She came to Rye full of hope thinking that at last she would be able to be financially independent, earn a living and hold her head high. She did not take into account narrow minded attitudes, very limited outlook and people who would not like her just because she was doing something with her life.

The beginning of the war and the Belgian refugees coming into this village precipitated another crisis. Enlisting for the war became priority amongst the men and women were to get ready to support their menfolk in whatever way they could.

The actual onset of the war and its bitter repercussions on every family was a far cry from the heroic and glorious war cries of all when the boys went to war. Actual war was death, pain for all and the return of men who were damaged beyond repair.

In the midst of this a love story which showed how life balances itself. With death at the same time new life, new beginnings.

Fabulous characterization, storyline excellent. Compelling read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Random House.


  1. That sounds like the kind of historical fiction I like.

  2. Mystica, your high praise for the novel does make this a compelling read. Besides, I like the setting and the premise.