It’s the summer of 1914 in East Sussex, England. Young Beatrice Nash arrives in the small coastal town of Rye, mourning her father’s death and hoping to land a position as a Latin teacher since she is now penniless, but she was raised to think for herself and may stand out in Rye…and not in a good way. Hugh Grange is home from his studies to become a doctor to visit with his uncle, who works in the Foreign Office, and his aunt. Hugh and his cousin befriend the young teacher, helping her make her way in Rye’s social circles.
It is a summer filled with expanding horizons, facing the harsh realities of being a single young woman in late Edwardian England, learning the social steps in a small town, discovering boundaries, stretching boundaries, facing a war and all its pain, and falling in love.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, rooted for the characters, ached for their pain, cheered for their joy. Ms. Simonson has a way of drawing you in to each one’s dilemmas and desires…making you really care about each one. Beautifully written, with attention to details that draw you into the time and the place, The Summer Before the War is a story that will stay with you beyond when you close the cover after the last page is read.