The Summer Before the War
'Helen Simonson's characters enchant us, her English countryside beguiles us, and her historical intelligence keeps us at the edge of our seats.’ - Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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.
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 currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is her second novel.