The Summer Before the War

A Novel

The Summer Before the War

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community.”—The Washington Post The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love on the eve of World War I that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is set. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND NPR 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 saber 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 colorful characters who 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. Praise for The Summer Before the War “What begins as a study of a small-town society becomes a compelling account of war and its aftermath.”—Woman’s Day “This witty character study of how a small English town reacts to the 1914 arrival of its first female teacher offers gentle humor wrapped in a hauntingly detailed story.”—Good Housekeeping “Perfect for readers in a post–Downton Abbey slump . . . The gently teasing banter between two kindred spirits edging slowly into love is as delicately crafted as a bone-china teacup. . . . More than a high-toned romantic reverie for Anglophiles—though it serves the latter purpose, too.”—The Seattle Times “[Helen Simonson’s] characters are so vivid, it’s as if a PBS series has come to life. There’s scandal, star-crossed love and fear, but at its heart, The Summer Before the War is about loyalty, love and family.”—AARP: The Magazine “This luminous story of a family, a town, and a world in their final moments of innocence is as lingering and lovely as a long summer sunset.”—Annie Barrows, author of The Truth According to Us and co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society “Simonson is like a Jane Austen for our day and age—she is that good—and The Summer Before the War is nothing short of a treasure.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

The Hidden Letters of Velta B.

A Novel

The Hidden Letters of Velta B.

“A beautifully spun tale” set in a tiny town in Latvia—“an astonishing alchemy of history, romance, and fable” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). Maris was born knowing things: His very large, very special ears enable him to hear the secrets of the dead, as well as the memories that haunt his Latvian hometown. As a boy, he finds himself heir to an odd assortment of hidden letters, from which he would weave a story that could finally expose—and maybe even patch—the holes in the fabric of his family and their town. With humor, heart, and her characteristic “luminous writing [and] affection for her characters,” Gina Ochsner creates an intimate, hopeful portrait of a fascinating town in all its complications and charm. From the onset of World War II through the cold shock of independence, we see how, despite years of distrust, a community can come through love and loss to the joy of understanding (The New York Times). A finalist for the Oregon Book Awards Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, The Hidden Letters of Velta B. is “a captivating novel of secrets, love, and memory . . . This terrific novel knocked me out” (Janet Fitch, author of Paint It Black). “Intimate, vibrant, and richly colored.” —Portland Monthly “A gift on par with Joanne Harris’s Chocolat . . . Quirky, ethereal, hilarious, and sorrowful.” —Shelf Awareness “[An] extraordinary feat of storytelling . . . A spellbinding novel as tough as it is beautiful.” —Helen Simonson, author of The Summer Before the War

The Book of Summer

A Novel

The Book of Summer

The ocean, the wild roses on the dunes and the stunning Cliff House, perched atop a bluff in Sconset, Nantucket. Inside the faded pages of the Cliff House guest book live the spellbinding stories of its female inhabitants: from Ruby, a bright-eyed newlywed on the eve of World War II to her granddaughter Bess, who returns to the beautiful summer estate. For the first time in four years, physician Bess Codman visits the compound her great-grandparents built almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Bess must now put aside her complicated memories in order to pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave. It’s not just memories of her family home Bess must face though, but also an old love that might hold new possibilities. In the midst of packing Bess rediscovers the forgotten family guest book. Bess’s grandmother and primary keeper of the book, Ruby, always said Cliff House was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother’s words in ways she never imagined.

A Reader's Guide to the Twentieth-century Novel in Britain

A Reader's Guide to the Twentieth-century Novel in Britain

The novel is the major literary phenomenon of the twentieth century, and its development in Britain since 1900 has reflected the tumultuous changes that have characterized modern society. Randall Stevenson now presents an accessible and authoritative guide to the work of th ecentury's leading novelists as well as many of its lesser known writers. In this stimulating and wide-ranging account, Stevenson locates the work of individual writers, from Conrad to Jeanette Winterson, within an evolving literary history and the wider context of social, political, and cultural change. Included are British writers working in exile and writers with origins elsewhere, such as James and Rushdie, who have chosen to work in Britain. Women novelists are accorded their rightful prominence. This clear and lively survey deals with a broad range of movements, including modernism and postmodernism, as well as the influence of other world literatures and the impact of two world wars. An ideal text, this is a 'guide' in the best sense—concise and lucid, well-informed and perceptive. Readers new to the field will appreciate Stevenson's clear direction, while the experienced will be delighted by newly revealed connections and fresh perspectives.

The Last Summer of the World: A Novel

The Last Summer of the World: A Novel

"Absorbing…Mitchell's novel [is] the real thing." —Boston Globe In the summer of 1918, with the Germans threatening Paris, Edward Steichen arrives in France to photograph the war for the American army. There, he finds a country filled with poignant memories for him: early artistic success, marriage, the birth of two daughters, and a love affair that divided his family. Told with elegance and transporting historical sensitivity, Emily Mitchell’s first novel captures the life of a great American artist caught in the reckoning of a painful past in a world beset by war. A Finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lion's Fiction Award and named a Best Book of the Year by the Providence Journal, the Austin-American-Stateman, and the Madison Capital Times.

The Other Bennet Sister

A Novel

The Other Bennet Sister

"Jane fans rejoice! . . . Exceptional storytelling and a true delight." —Helen Simonson, author of the New York Times bestselling novels Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Summer Before the War Mary, the bookish ugly duckling of Pride and Prejudice’s five Bennet sisters, emerges from the shadows and transforms into a desired woman with choices of her own. What if Mary Bennet’s life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice? What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? This is the plot of Janice Hadlow's The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Jane Austen fans. Ultimately, Mary’s journey is like that taken by every Austen heroine. She learns that she can only expect joy when she has accepted who she really is. She must throw off the false expectations and wrong ideas that have combined to obscure her true nature and prevented her from what makes her happy. Only when she undergoes this evolution does she have a chance at finding fulfillment; only then does she have the clarity to recognize her partner when he presents himself—and only at that moment is she genuinely worthy of love. Mary’s destiny diverges from that of her sisters. It does not involve broad acres or landed gentry. But it does include a man; and, as in all Austen novels, Mary must decide whether he is the truly the one for her. In The Other Bennet Sister, Mary is a fully rounded character—complex, conflicted, and often uncertain; but also vulnerable, supremely sympathetic, and ultimately the protagonist of an uncommonly satisfying debut novel.

A Century of November

A Novel

A Century of November

After learning his son has been killed in the First World War, apple grower Charles Marden sets off for Belgium to find the site of his son's death, only to take up the search for the pregnant girlfriend his son was forced to leave behind. 2004 Michigan Literary Fiction Award Winner.

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

Volume 9: Literature

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

Offering a comprehensive view of the South's literary landscape, past and present, this volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture celebrates the region's ever-flourishing literary culture and recognizes the ongoing evolution of the southern literary canon. As new writers draw upon and reshape previous traditions, southern literature has broadened and deepened its connections not just to the American literary mainstream but also to world literatures--a development thoughtfully explored in the essays here. Greatly expanding the content of the literature section in the original Encyclopedia, this volume includes 31 thematic essays addressing major genres of literature; theoretical categories, such as regionalism, the southern gothic, and agrarianism; and themes in southern writing, such as food, religion, and sexuality. Most striking is the fivefold increase in the number of biographical entries, which introduce southern novelists, playwrights, poets, and critics. Special attention is given to contemporary writers and other individuals who have not been widely covered in previous scholarship.

The Road to Armageddon

The Martial Spirit in English Popular Literature, 1870-1914

The Road to Armageddon

The Lost Generation has held the imagination of those who succeeded them, partly because the idea that modern war could be romantic, generous, and noble died with the casualties of that war. From this remove, it seems almost perverse that Britons, Germans, and Frenchmen of every social class eagerly rushed to the fields of Flanders and to misery and death. In The Road to Armageddon Cecil Eby shows how the widely admired writers of English popular fiction and poetry contributed, at least in England, to a romantic militarism coupled with xenophobia that helped create the climate that made World War I seem almost inevitable. Between the close of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and the opening guns of 1914, the works of such widely read and admired writers as H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, J. M. Barrie, and Rupert Brooke, as well as a host of now almost forgotten contemporaries, bombarded their avid readers with strident warnings of imminent invasions and prophecies of the collapse of civilization under barbarian onslaught and internal moral collapse. Eby seems these narratives as growing from and in turn fueling a collective neurosis in which dread of coming war coexisted with an almost loving infatuation with it. The author presents a vivid panorama of a militant mileau in which warfare on a scale hitherto unimaginable was largely coaxed into being by works of literary imagination. The role of covert propaganda, concealed in seemingly harmless literary texts, is memorably illustrated.

Dreamers

When the Writers Took Power, Germany 1918

Dreamers

History that reads like a novel: the story of the writers and intellectuals behind the failed Bavarian Revolution of 1918, by the author of the acclaimed Summer Before the Dark The bloody war has lasted more than four years. They aren't just going to let it burn out... Something bright and new has to—has to—come out of the darkness. Munich, November 1918: in the final days of the First World War, revolutionaries open the doors of military prisons, occupy official buildings and overthrow the monarchy. At the head of the newly declared Free State of Bavaria is journalist and theatre critic Kurt Eisner, and around him rally luminaries of German cultural history: Thomas Mann, Ernst Toller and Rainer Maria Rilke. Yet the dream cannot last: in February 1919, Eisner is assassinated and the revolution fails. But while it survived, it was the writers, the poets. the playwrights and the intellectuals who led the way, imagining new ways of shaping the world. In his characteristically vivid, sharp prose, Volker Weidermann hones in on a short moment in history, revealing an extraordinary flourishing of revolutionary potential that could have altered the course of the twentieth century. The award-winning writer and literary critic Volker Weidermann was born in Germany in 1969, and studied political science and German language and literature in Heidelberg and Berlin. He is the cultural editor of the Der Spiegel, and the author of Summer Before the Dark, which is also published by Pushkin Press.