The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson is set in the idyllic beauty of a late Edwardian summer in the country, where the passionate pursuit of unexpected love and the village outrage over the arrival of a female Latin teacher will all be swept away by the onset of a war no one could imagine.
East Sussex, 1914. It’s the end of an idyllic summer and Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha in the pretty coastal town of Rye. Casting aside the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans, 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, 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, everything will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson is available now from Dymocks:
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