The Summer Before the WarThe Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you, NetGalley.com for allowing me to read this uncorrected proof for free in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, let me tell you how I read most books. I enjoy reading while listening to the Female British voice on Text-to-Speech on my Kindle Fire. In this case, it added a lot to the ambiance of the story. For those who might like Julie Andrews to read a story to you, this method!

Second, I need to tell you what appealed to me when I saw this book. I love historical books about women in the wars that were mostly known for being by and for men and their powers and glories. Yes, I realize that these wars were fought for the freedom for all, but the female half of the world held up the sky while the guys went off to die.

NOW to the review.

Beatrice Nash, the main character represents what I want to see about women of the time. Before the war, she was a Latin teacher. This was shocking in the town where she took that position, as she was not a man. She veers away from the feminine wiles and ways of the times while trying to fit in and earn a living. I admired this character and enjoyed watching her growth during this summer and seeing the support characters grow in response to Beatrice and the coming war and its changes.

The story held together fairly well. But I must admit that I was often bored by the writing. Please don’t think this is a criticism of the writer or the story as I know a lot of people love this kind of story-telling. It just didn’t engage my mind. It was so bad for me that I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep reading. But I persevered. And I’m glad I did. At about 70% of the book, I found it getting more exciting and I guess I had picked up enough about the characters and the plot that I suddenly found myself quite engrossed in the story. I didn’t stop reading from that point on until the end of the book. By the way, pull out the Kleenex near the end. It wasn’t as depressing as it could be, but a story about war can’t possibly be without loss. Yet the book left me feeling hopeful.

I do believe that my friends who love a good historical fiction with a bit of romance (thank goodness not too much) will love this book. And do try to add the ‘Julie Andrews’ voice. 🙂

View all my reviews

Advertisements