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 aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye.
Agatha's husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won't come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.
When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking and attractive than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing. But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colourful characters that populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end.
For despite Agatha's reassurances, the unimaginable 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.
©2016 Helen Simonson (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
Great performance from Lucy Scott to turn a so-so story into one I managed to listen to for 15+ hours. The story line was predictable - particularly the ending - and the 'action' was a long time coming. The last 1/3 of this book was the better part. Recommended if you're after an easy 'listen'
I found the characters of this novel engaging. The story line at times plodded along and would have benefitted from some editing.
Not a story with an ending you want for all characters but able to draw me in with feelings of emotion for both their misery and happiness.
Worth a listen/read.
"A good listen"
It is a slow burner, by chapter six I was wondering where the story was going and if indeed it was worth continuing with. I am very pleased that I did. It is a thought provoking, enjoyable listen.
Snout, Hugh and Daniel, they felt the most real and rounded characters to me.
Her reading was rather flag and her voices for the male characters and more unpleasant lady characters too similar.
This was an easy going, easy listening story .... Until the last 2 hours. At which point, after many hours of a slightly tepid story line, the drama ramps up and I was gripped.
There is some brilliant descriptive narrative and character creations. However, it was more of a 'back ground chatter' when listening in the car for many miles than a riveting drama.
I was interested in the depiction of the way of life around the time of the Great War.
No. The narration was an obstacle to enjoyment. I lost count of the number of mistakes in pronunciation throughout the book. If this reader could place the emphasis on the wrong syllable in a phrase then she did so! She clearly was not reading ahead and understanding what she was reading.
Yes. I found it trite and unsubtle.
In retrospect I am sorry I wasted my time on this book. I had quite enjoyed Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and wanted to try another by the same author but I won't be bothering with any more.
"Another beautifully written story by Helen - this wartime story evoked the war like no other I have ever read."
This wartime story is superb. So much more than a wartime drama. Deeply touching and impossible to put down.
"Excellent social commentary"
For me Simonson has a powerful way of expressing social norms and behaviours through her appealing characters and within the context of her novels' settings. This book provides a snapshot of gender/social/class/ethnic-related prejudices at the beginning of the 20th century and shows how the characters tussle with social expectations and their own emotional needs. The strength of upholding honour and duty and the desperation of oppression, abuse and limitless yearning of motherhood are beautifully observed. Dialogue between characters is highly believable and often amusing. Reading this book was a journey which resonated strongly with the world's continued human plight. Thank you Helen Simonson.
"Good ending, but oh sooooo slow..................."
Edit the first half by about 2 hours
The effect of the War on all the characters
I had to abandon this book x 2 as the start was so slow, I got there in the end, due to the narration. If i had been reading it I would never have made a 3rd attempt.
No, the ending was just right.
Really enjoyed listening to this, touched on the issues of social boundaries of ww1 and the pals battalions along with life back at home and England before the war.
"Poignant and touching"
Poignantly brings that summer to life with likable characters. Lovely narration, clear distinction between voices.
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