Beatrice Nash is an educated, talented, and pleasant woman. But life in 1914 England does not give much credence to those qualities when she has been left orphaned and impoverished at the old maid age of 22 without any marriage prospects. To make matters worse, she must rely on her unfriendly relatives for assistance in finding a job. Her position as Latin teacher to the small school in Kent is tenuous, and she can only hope that somehow she can find the means to get ahead of her fate.
Meanwhile, Hugh Grange visits his aunt in Kent this summer, along with his cousin Daniel, and the two friends find themselves in a new situation as the country turns in the tides of war.
Yes, The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson does have a romance in it, and the tea parlor conversations in it make it a delightful woman’s novel. But in the tradition of Downton Abbey, we also face the dichotomy of the classes during an intriguing changing era when the world is soon to be turned upside down by war. Add in a very timely discussion of refugees from Belgium, and I found The Summer Before the War to be a delightful British novel for capturing my Downton Abbey-starved mind.Continue Reading