With that in mind, I decided to try a new author, Helen Simonson, and her latest hardcover, The Summer Before the War. The war in question is WWI and our heroine is Beatrice Nash, who moves to the small town of Rye in Sussex, England. Beatrice is to be the new Latin teacher at school but plans to tutor a trio of boys during the summer.
While the local townfolk are less than thrilled about a woman teaching Latin, they are more perturbed by the arrival of Belgian refugees, who are fleeing the growing oppression in Germany that threatens to cross over more than one border. As Beatrice settles into the routine of Rye life, she finds an unexpected ally in Agatha Kent, a formidable woman in her own right, and is able to offer support to both newcomers and long time residents as the oncoming war changes all of their lives.
I have heard good things about this author(mainly about her debut novel, which I'll get to in a moment) and right now, a good old fashioned read like this sounds picture perfect to me. Most of the reviews that I've read about TSBTW have said that this is an ideal novel for Downton Abbey fans, which means that it should be the right cup of storytelling tea for me:
I do hope that The Summer Before the War is as good as it sounds, so then I will have another new book to enjoy,which I may have to borrow from Book Lender. Helen Simonson's first book is readily available in paperback and that one also takes place in a small English town.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand has the retired widower of the title struggling to get over the recent loss of his brother Bertie and dealing with his callow son Roger, all the while engaging in a friendship with Mrs. Ali, a widow who runs the local food shop.
Their slow yet steady romance raises a few eyebrows and an invitation to an annual dance doesn't go as well as it could. Nonetheless, true love is determined to win the day, not to mention a pair of hearts. This does appear to be a delightful book and I will find a way to read it soon, regardless of how I feel about TSBTW(although I think that I'll like that one as well):
Salinger himself doesn't make an appearance here, apart from some phone calls and correspondence regarding a book project, but the core of this story is about Rakoff's life and times in that end part of the 1990s as she grows to love books and publishing even more than she already does.
I'm part way through the book at this point and it has a blend of Gilmore Girls meets Mad Men vibe, as Rakoff learns to work in an office that resists any new tech equipment(one of her first duties is to figure out how to use a Dictaphone machine) and handle the quirky attitudes of the other inhabitants of the agency, as well as the pretensions of her boyfriend Don and their social circle in pre-gentrified Brooklyn.
This is a book that moves along as quickly as Lorelai Gilmore's dialogue at times, so I have to force myself to slow down and savor all of the glowing details. Joanna Rakoff has quite the snappy style and I look forward to reading more of her work:
As for after the holidays, I do think that library haul posts are going to be a regular feature from now on at LRG. Libraries are part of most of our bookish lives and now that I'm back in that particular book borrowing game, I hope that I can pay back the library love just right: