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TheSummer Before the War

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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was an international bestseller and a Richard & Judy Book Club s... Read More

Product Description

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was an international bestseller and a Richard & Judy Book Club selection. It sold over 100,000 copies in the UK aloneFor fans of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and La's Orchestra Saves the World (Alexander McCall Smith), it's E. F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia meets Louisa Young's My Dear I Wanted to Tell You - with a touch of Birdsong by Sebastian FaulksA super lead fiction title, to be accompanied by a major marketing and publicity campaignHelen Simonson was born in Buckinghamshire and spent her teenage years in a small village near Rye in East Sussex. Her debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, was an international bestseller, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and was translated and published in twenty one countries. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Helen is married, with two grown sons, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is her second novel. www.helensimonson.comEast 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 Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything. And Agatha has more 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 more free thinking - and attractive - than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, 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 colourful characters that 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 war.Witty, heart-warming and profoundly moving, The Summer Before the War is the story of an unexpected heroine and an unassuming village, caught up in an unimaginable war - by the bestselling author of Major Pettigrew's Last StandRadiant ... I found myself turning pages with increasing awe as well as pleasure. The provincial village of Rye, Sussex in the days just before and after the Great War is so vividly drawn it fairly vibrates - but it's the depth and sensitivity with which Simonson 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 - that reveals the full mastery of her storytelling. Like a Jane Austen or Henry James for our day and age, Simonson is that good, and The Summer Before the War is nothing short of a treasureAt once haunting and effervescent, The Summer Before the War demonstrates the sure hand of a master. 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 sunsetIn the noisy world of today it is a delight to find a novel that dares to assert itself quietly but with the lovely rhythm of Helen Simonson's funny, comforting, and intelligent debutHow clever of her to have entered that era so convincingly and gently and to have written about such traumas along with lovely wit and grace.hugely enjoyableWords cannot convey the slow-burning pleasureFunny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling . It's about intelligence, heart, dignity and backboneA charming, funny and absorbing debutA beautiful little love storyA gorgeous gem of a book. I found it original and quirky and the characters absolutely adorable - she's a wonderful, original writer and the characters really live. My ideal read, I lovedSimonson's writing is as delightful as ever, lively, witty and heartfelt, while engaging thoughtfully with the brutal imminence of World War IA quiet, but ultimately devastating, story of a society invaded by the death and violence from across the Channel. Pinpointing the snobbery and rigidity of a social order that needed a good shake-up, it is gently satiric, but lovingly written. Don't be put off by the leisurely pace, for at its heart is shrewd observation and a memorable tendernessThere is a nostalgic, warmly seductive afterglow to this evocation of a tight-knit town ruptured yet also reinforced by the onset of war. It quickly becomes an immersive, howlingly emotional readThe novel begins as a comedy of manners in picturesque Rye but deepens into a meditation on loss in the trenches of Flanders. It's a slow-burn opening with local rivalries, gender politics and burgeoning romances, but the arrival of Belgian refugees shifts the focus to WWI and the physical and emotional wounds of all involvedThis is PG Wodehouse and Mapp And Lucia territory, sending up hypocrisy and snobbery with a cast of indulged nephews and even an eccentric Aunt Agatha, a stock character of early 20th-century comic novels. There is also a delicious send-up of Henry James in the person of Mr Tillingham who sees his neighbours' emotional problems as potential material . Simonson's control of tone is remarkable as she manages to confront serious issues with a gentle satire that never becomes mordant or facetious. I foresee a success as great as that for her debut Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. An exhilarating new comic voiceThere's an edge to this gentle portrait of middle-class society from the start . As the death toll in Europe mounts, the meticulous detail and flair which so beautifully conjures up the atmosphere of the times, is matched by an emotional depth that makes this as harrowing as it is readableAt 580 pages, The Summer Before the War is on the long side. But, to paraphrase Jane Austen, it is so well-written that I almost found it too short... My tears had barely dried by the time we sat down together'This WWI tale charmed our pants off *****Touching, profound and inspiring'A tight-knit Sussex seaside town is ruptured by the onset of the First World War, in the second novel from the author of the bestselling Major Pettigrew's Last Stand'

Product Details

Title: TheSummer Before the War
Author: Helen Simonson
SKU: BK0413370
EAN: 9781408837665

About Author

Helen Simonson was born in Buckinghamshire and spent her teenage years in a small village near Rye in East Sussex. Her debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, was an international bestseller, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and was translated and published in twenty one countries. A graduate of the London School of Economics, Helen is married, with two grown sons, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. www.helensimonson.uk

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