The Summer Before The War
by Alice Walker
 A Story of race, love, and the deep-seated prejudice against Blacks. The Color Purple by Aluce Walker #Besthistoricalfiction, #bookclub, #womensfiction, #reading, #BooksToRead, #bookclub, #reading, #books, #thecolorpurple, #alicewalker, #awardwinningbook
Book Summary
East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England's brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his beloved Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband John in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha insists that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything, and that the King, the Kaiser, the Russian Tsar and Uncle John will all be taking their scheduled summer holidays as usual.

Meanwhile, she has more immediate concerns; as one of the first women allowed to be voted onto the local school's Board of Governors, Agatha has just risked her carefully built reputation by publicly pushing for the appointment of a female Latin teacher.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more free thinking, and prettier, than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, Beatrice whose father recently passed away leaving her without family or money simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. Quickly taken under the formidable Agatha's wing, charmed by the beauty of the Sussex landscape, Beatrice soon finds herself questioning her original opinions on spinsterhood and small town life.

But this serene countryside summer is about to end, and despite Agatha's reassurances, an unimaginable war is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war.

Book Review
(by- Andrea )
THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson is one the best book I've listened to in a while! I agree with the Washington Post when it says, " It's your cure to Downton Abby Withdrawl." I couldn't stop listening to this book. I felt transported to the town of Rye, England, and became immersed in this enchanting story.

It begins with Beatrice Nash, a young woman hired to teach Latin at the local school. The appointment of a woman caused a bit of a stir in the community because women didn't have equal rights. The suffragette movement is an interesting thread throughout the story. I loved all the historical details, including the formalities, restrictions, and chivalry! It's a wonderful love story, but as the book progresses, it takes on a more serious tone as the war approaches. There's a lot to discuss with this book. It's a fantastic summer read and would make an excellent Book Club choice.

Discussion Questions

1. An important subject in The Summer Before the War is women's lives: their role and limits, and how women work within and against Edwardian strictures. Do you think we can take any modern lessons from these women's lives?

2.Beatrice and Celeste both idolize their fathers. However, are they both betrayed? Do all the characters place too much trust in father figures? Do you think this a useful metaphor for England as it goes to war?

3. Why do we love the Edwardian era so much? Is it the gentility and supposed innocence of the age? Does this attraction remain for you after reading The Summer Before the War?

4.The author presents two strong women in the characters of Beatrice Nash and Agatha Kent. How are they similar and different? Why do you think the author chose to present both voices?

5. Who is your favorite character and what draws you to him or her in particular? Whom do you dislike in the book, and does he or she have redeeming features?

6. The author has said she thinks the whole world can be explained in a small town. Did she succeed at that in this book? What do you think can or cannot be described and explained within such a setting?

7. Though The Summer Before the War is set in Edwardian En-gland, did you recognize elements of your own town, city, or -social circle in this novel? Could the good ladies and gentlemen of Rye only exist in England, or are such characters found everywhere?

8. Why are books about war so compelling? Do you agree with Beatrice that no writer can ever write about war in a way that will prevent it? Is it a valuable topic anyway? <

9. Did The Summer Before the War change what you knew or how you thought of the First World War? How so?

Discussion Questions By The Publisher

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