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The Summer Before the War
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Group Read Discussions > June 2017 Group Read -The Summer Before the War *SPOILERS ALLOWED*

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message 1: by Gretchen, Keep your head up or the crown slips (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gretchen (eab2012) | 563 comments Mod
The book picked for our June 2017 Group Read was The Summer Before the War. This thread allows spoilers. Happy Reading!

East 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 freethinking — 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 colorful characters who 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.



message 2: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) What a great choice. Really wanted to read this, but since I'm currently writing in this period, "The Summer Before the War" is on my "black out list" for now, probably until next year. Hope all you HistFics enjoy it, however, and I'll be watching for your comments.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 1035 comments Gretchen - could you add the title/author to the TOPIC for this book ... perhaps include a link to the book as well? ("This topic is about.")

Thank you.


Kathy An interesting book about the end of one time period, Edwardian England through WWI. It explores the changing of morals especially woman roles, class stratification, and the reality of war (the myth vs. reality). Well written, a bit slow at first. Picks up once the war action begins. Major reveal in the last pages.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 1035 comments I found this delightful. Simonson's writing reminds me of Jane Austen's novels - a comedy of manners. Like Austen, Simonson has a great gift for dialogue and for creating a social structure that draws the reader into the small dramas of life that give her work universal appeal. I fell in love with the characters - even the busy-body self-important Bettina Fothergill - and was invested in their story.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 407 comments I enjoyed this one a great deal.


Kate Quinn | 591 comments Loved this one. There's a lot of heartbreak and sadness here, but quite a lot of Simonson's signature humor.


message 8: by Arun (new) - added it

Arun Prasath (arun02) | 17 comments The Looking Glass War I am trying to read this for long. Not been able to get time. Hope this getting nominated and selected will motivate me to read this.BTW this book as you all know, is a famous one by John le Carré. Happy reading .


Renee M I like the the main character stood up for herself and still remained pretty true to her time period.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 407 comments Arun wrote: "The Looking Glass War I am trying to read this for long. Not been able to get time. Hope this getting nominated and selected will motivate me to read this.BTW this book as you all know..."

Think you want the nominations thread for August?


message 11: by Bree (new)

Bree Verity (breeverity) I ugly-cried the entire last quarter of this book, and for a good 15 minutes after. I'm not good with war...
It was a really good read. I agree with Renee about the main character Beatrice, who stands up when she is faced with injustice - against herself and against others.
However it also presents a sad indictment on the Edwardian morality of the day, the human cost of war, and petty people exercising their petty power against people without power.


message 12: by Fred (new) - rated it 5 stars

Fred Shaw Excellent choice for June HF. I am in awe of the book and author. I will write a review and post on Goodreads.


Michele | 377 comments Anyone else get the strong feeling that the one nephew is actually Agatha's son?


Rachel (rdlevee) | 35 comments While not explicitly stated, there were hints near the end of the book that Daniel is Agatha's son. (e.g. Daniel tells Hugh to tell Agatha that he always knew. At the cemetery, the groundskeeper assumes Agatha is a mother looking for her son's grave.)


Laura | 70 comments there was so much about this book that "wasn't explicitly stated" and i had to keep going back over exchanges between people to see if i was reading correctly into it.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 407 comments There were a good number of hints that way, and by the end I think it's pretty clear that was the situation. Why else did Agatha know a midwife who could keep a secret?


message 17: by Gretchen, Keep your head up or the crown slips (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gretchen (eab2012) | 563 comments Mod
I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book last night. Part of the time was spent reading. Part of the time was spent pulling myself together after the ugly-cry I had during the last 150 (or so) pages.


message 18: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 69 comments Gretchen wrote: "I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book last night. Part of the time was spent reading. Part of the time was spent pulling myself together after the ugly-cry I had during the last 150 (..."

Yes, I think the last half of the book redeems all that went before.


message 19: by Sarah (last edited Jul 05, 2017 05:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah | 53 comments Thought this book was just ok, definitely rich in detail but the parts of the book that grabbed me happened towards the end. my review


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 598 comments Finally finished it; loved every page! I was really impressed at how smoothly the author incorporated the historical context; I never felt explained to. The characters really came to life for me, and their dialogue was wonderful. If anything, I enjoyed the early going the most, with all the little social micro-negotiations. My review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 21: by Jasmine, Gatekeeper of Giveaways. (last edited Jul 23, 2017 08:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jasmine | 1235 comments Mod
I finally finished! Once I got to about page 300 I had a hard time putting this down, but it did take me a while to get to page 300. I loved the characters and the way the author built them up. I wanted to hurl the book sometimes with the constraints of society, but I respect the author for remaining true to the time. I think the end of the book does make it pretty clear that Daniel was Agatha's son. It made me curious if she had a really rough birth, because earlier it mentioned that she and her husband could not have children, so I assumed something went wrong the first time.

I also loved the way Daniel rescued Celeste and the way John Kent took to her and her son. I felt that was a testament to what he had done for Agatha. It mentions he swooped in and came to her after her fiancé died, and I'm assuming when he did that she was pregnant.

I really wanted to punch the professor! I knew pretty early on Celeste was pregnant by the way she was acting and the way her father was keeping his distance, but her reveal of how he basically pimped her out so he could save his books made me so furious. It was even more frustrating because he was so distant from her and treated her so unkindly when he was the cause of her situation.


Renee M A very selfish, thoughtless, myopic, even heartless character. :(


message 23: by Michele (last edited Jul 24, 2017 05:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michele | 377 comments Renee wrote: "A very selfish, thoughtless, myopic, even heartless character. :("

Renee, are you referring to the professor? if so, yes indeed!!


Michele | 377 comments Jasmine wrote: I really wanted to punch the professor! I knew pretty early on Celeste was pregnant by the way she was acting and the way her father was keeping his distance, but her reveal of how he basically pimped her out so he could save his books made me so furious"

Yeah, that was pretty horrifying.


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