Helen Simonson

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in The United Kingdom
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Edith Wharton, Henry James, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackvill ...more

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September 2009


Helen Simonson was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics with an MFA from Stony Brook Southampton, she is a former travel advertising executive who has lived in America for almost three decades. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she is married with two sons. Her debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, was a NY Times bestseller and was published in twenty one countries. Her second novel The Summer before The War is also a NY Times and international bestseller and is now available in paperback.

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Helen Simonson Dear Sarah, Five years of constant research have made me almost swear never to try a historical setting again. How does Hilary Mantel do it? Of the…moreDear Sarah, Five years of constant research have made me almost swear never to try a historical setting again. How does Hilary Mantel do it? Of the history books I waded through, I'll mention David Fromkin's "Europe's Last Summer and Richard Van Eden "Boy Soldiers of The Great War". Many memoirs and biographies ranged from Agatha Christie's Autobiography to "Henry James at Work" by the wonderful Theodora Bosanquet. I also used primary sources. I spent many hours in the British Library reading newspapers and magazines of 1914 in an attempt to feel the war approach just as Agatha Kent might have done. But every aspect of the novel, from Triumph motorcycles, and the culture of British Romanies, to fashion and food, all required me to burrow far into interesting subjects. Then came the hardest part...putting my research firmly in the back of my brain and writing the story unweighted by all my newfound expertise. Nothing kills a novel faster than the author showing off research and I was still paring away fascinating true details well into copy editing. If only you knew how much I know about the history of Rye's waterworks and sewer systems!! Thanks for writing and Happy New Year 2016.(less)
Helen Simonson Thank you Leanne. It's funny how I often don't remember the quotes attributed to my pen and I'm so thrilled to see them pulled out and underlined by…moreThank you Leanne. It's funny how I often don't remember the quotes attributed to my pen and I'm so thrilled to see them pulled out and underlined by readers. Honored to be added to your day. My next book will be published March of next year. I wonder if I've said anything quotable in there? I honestly have no idea but hope the readers will show me a few!(less)
Average rating: 3.86 · 147,476 ratings · 16,417 reviews · 3 distinct worksSimilar authors
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

3.88 avg rating — 117,540 ratings — published 2010 — 70 editions
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The Summer Before the War

3.78 avg rating — 29,928 ratings — published 2016 — 38 editions
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2.88 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2010
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* Note: these are all the books on Goodreads for this author. To add more, click here.

Hi - Just a note to say I'm in Manhattan this Thursday, April 20, at Barnes and Noble Upper East Side to interview Elizabeth Kostova, author of #1 bestseller THE HISTORIAN, about her new book, THE SHADOW LAND. And on Saturday, April 22, I'm at the Bethesda Library at 4pm to talk about my new paperback, THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR>. DO come and meet me if you're close by...
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Published on April 18, 2017 07:16 • 157 views • Tags: appearance, book-reading, event

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The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan  Henderson
"I first read this novel in manuscript, and I was so completely undone by it in the best possible way that I pushed the author into changing agents and she immediately got a book deal. It's about a female mortician, about a childhood tragedy that s..." Read more of this review »
Helen Simonson rated a book it was amazing
Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato
Edgar and Lucy
by Victor Lodato (Goodreads Author)
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This tale gradually exerts a fiendish grip on the reader. A small strange boy in peril, with nothing but his wide-eyed innocence and faith in the world to save him. A flawed but loving mother overwhelmed... Beautifully written by Victor Lodato - whom ...more
Helen Simonson rated a book it was amazing
I Was a Revolutionary by Andrew Malan Milward
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I just met Andrew Malan Milward at a Florida book festival where we shared a panel on historical fiction. But we agreed that neither of us is writing strictly historical fiction. Rather, we are 'engaging' with history to draw out timeless literary th ...more
Helen Simonson rated a book it was amazing
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Lilac Girls
by Martha Hall Kelly (Goodreads Author)
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Fabulous book that centers on events at the notorious women's concentration camp Ravensbruk. It introduces us to the life of American socialite Caroline Ferriday and her wartime work. Also Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenage resistance courier and Hert ...more
" Dear Penny,
Georgia is not on my tour and bookstores have to compete to get my publisher to send me. However, if you and your bookstore want to host a
...more "
Helen Simonson rated a book it was amazing
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
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Zadie Smith's White Teeth was one of the books that got me started as a writer. Her humor and her immersion into place and character had me hooked. I have read all her books. Swing Time is glorious for me in that it submerged me into the childhood of ...more
" Happy Holidays Goodreads friends. March 22, 2016 seems just around the corner from my viewpoint. I'm trying to put off feeling nervous until the New Y ...more "
More of Helen's books…
“Life does often get in the way of one's reading.”
Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

“You are a wise man, Major, and I will consider your advice with great care—and humility." He finished his tea and rose from the table to go to his room. "But I must ask you, do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?"

"My dear boy," said the Major. "Is there really any other kind?”
Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

“It surprised him that his grief was sharper than in the past few days. He had forgotten that grief does not decline in a straight line or along a slow curve like a graph in a child's math book. Instead, it was almost as if his body contained a big pile of garden rubbish full both of heavy lumps of dirt and of sharp thorny brush that would stab him when he least expected it.”
Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

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Topics Mentioning This Author

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The Seasonal Read...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Spring Challenge 2010 Completed Tasks 2734 2421 May 31, 2010 09:00PM  
The Seasonal Read...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Summer Challenge 2010 Completed Tasks (do NOT delete any posts in this thread) 3059 3168 Aug 31, 2010 10:39PM  
The Seasonal Read...: This topic has been closed to new comments. * READERBOARD 10 593 Oct 17, 2010 10:08AM  
The Seasonal Read...: Fall 2010 Plans 75 453 Oct 25, 2010 08:39AM  
The Seasonal Read...: 5.7 - Circle of Life 26 171 Nov 13, 2010 06:15PM  
Bookmarks Subscri...: (June - Sept 2010) Major Pettigrew's Last Stand 12 49 Nov 26, 2010 04:50PM  
25x33 Q&A with Helen Simonson — 31 members — last activity Apr 28, 2010 01:12PM
...April 01, 2010 to April 30, 2010...



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