Book Review: The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson

summerbefore

When I saw this WWI-era book on the “new books” shelf at my library and realized that it was by the same author as Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which I read a few years ago and loved, I excitedly snatched it up. And I enjoyed this book, although sadly, I didn’t love it and won’t re-read it. I guess when an author writes an amazing first novel, she has a lot to live up to, and unfortunately, The Summer Before the War, while interesting, is not of the same caliber as Major Pettigrew.

To me, this book was just too “busy.” There was far too much going on, from too many different perspectives. It also seemed like Simonson phoned it in on character development, especially of the male characters.

One of the blurbs on the back of the book says, “Simonson is like a Jane Austen for our day and age,” and I would agree that there are some similarities in style between Austen and Simonson. They both are masters of witty quips and have a way of pointing out the subtle hypocrisy and ridiculousness of “proper” society, while championing justice and integrity.

The Summer Before the War is an entertaining read, but I wouldn’t call it a “must read.”

I am marking this book off as “A book published in 2016” for the #VTReadingChallenge.

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