The Summer Before The War

A loving portrait of English village life a century ago. Not a lot to set the pulse pounding, it would seem, but this one snuck up on me. Among the attributes that kept me engaged were snappy dialogue, sympathetic portrayals of characters it would be easy to mock, and a moving illumination of the prevailing mores of that place and time, including the severe limitations of class and gender. And extra points for including a swath of Roma characters. The central love story acquired a certain inevitability as we went along, but it still satisfied. Helen Simonson created wonderfully distinctive characters and built a fascinating series of interlocking and escalating tensions among them. I was reluctant to part from her world.

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