The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson

“She had treated the war as another civic duty and had entered willingly into her many new commitments. She truly believed that all must serve to the best of their abilities, but the sight of Hugh in uniform, and the realization that his talents would send him to the battlefield, was like a physical blow to her enthusiasm.”

Beatrice Nash knows her own mind. She lived a very independent life traveling around the world with her father and studying any subject she desired. After his death, she has to face adulthood on her own, which is an uphill battle for a woman in 1914. She finds herself hired to teach Latin in Rye, England (East Sussex), a place where a woman has never taught Latin. She finds an unexpected ally in Agatha, who is aunt to Hugh and Daniel. After successfully fighting to keep the job she’s been offered, she faces another fight to be recognized as an author and get her money from her father’s estate.

The title of this book caught my eye since I really enjoy historical fiction. More is found these days set in World War II than World War I, so I looked forward to learning something new and placing my mind in a different time frame. The book is very slow to start and didn’t pick up the pace until more than halfway through. It reminded me at times of a Jane Austen novel because the English was high and proper and the characters were not deeply described so I had to keep reminding myself who was who.

Once the book got moving, the storyline was interesting, but at that point, there wasn’t much of the book left. Both Hugh and Daniel feel called to go serve in the war and while Hugh gets a “safe” spot with the medical teams, Daniel gets mixed up in politics and ends up in the front instead of with the communications teams. Heartbreak faces everyone in Rye and views change drastically of each other and themselves.

I wouldn’t highly recommend this book unless you are looking for a book that will take you a while to read or you are very interested in World War I. There is not much in the way of historical events in the book, but it is interesting to see how the war affected one little town (they take in refugees).

Buy the book here (affiliate link).

About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.