Tuesday, March 29, 2016

THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson Audio Edition

Aficionados of Downton Abbey will find great delight and derive much pleasure from Helen Simonson’s second novel following her very popular Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.  Once again we’re taken back in time to the summer of 1914 and a quiet village - Rye, England where we’re entertained by the manners, mores and constraints of small town British life.

    Thanks to Agatha Kent, a woman with a progressive bent, the town is in for a surprise.  Agatha is awaiting the arrival of the school’s new Latin teacher, Beatrice Nash, a genteel young woman of 23 who sought employment following the death of her father.  A woman teacher in 1914?  How scandalous!  The mere thought let alone the reality is enough to set tongues wagging.  Agatha is also enjoying the company of her two young nephews who have come to spend the summer - Daniel Bookham, the poet, dreams of publishing a literary journal in Paris, and Hugh Grange who looks forward to graduating from medical school and marrying his surgeon’s daughter thus ensuring himself of a fine practice.

    However, when Hugh is dispatched to the rail station to pick up Beatrice his well laid plans are changed as is the village of Rye when refugees arrive following the German invasion of Belgium. 

    Once again Simonson has given us characters that we quickly care for, hope for and would pray for as the shadow of war becomes a reality.  British born actress Fiona  Hardingham delivers an accomplished narration bringing the various characters to vivid life.

    An estimable listen!

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