I’ve been vacationing a bit this summer and doing more reading than writing. So, here’s another book review:
The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I haven’t read Helen Simonson’s first novel, “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” but will add it to my list after having read “The Summer Before the War.” The book begins with a quotation from Henry James, which seems so fitting because all the action involves careful strolling about drawing rooms and gardens, at least in the beginning. The setting is incredibly important to the book: The stifling world of the early 20th Century, most fittingly represented by women bound in corsets. But these women, at least the main characters, are fighting to get out. By the end of the Great War, they have at least been relieved of the corsets. The war shatters the setting of the Summer Before the War forever. Beautifully written with characters you’ll love – I did anyway.
This book is classified as historical fiction. For those not familiar with the period, there is much to learn about women’s history and the status of gay lives. (I won’t mention lesbians, bisexuals, or transgendered lives because they were beyond imagination.)