Monday, June 20, 2016

The Summer Before the War: Section Two

The Summer Before the War
Section Two.

(I have not read the third section so I do not know the answers to some of these questions.)

 How did you feel about the way the villagers reacted to the refugees? 

 Is Helen Simonson able to pull off both the comedy of polite society manners of the time
and the reality of war? What were your favorite comedy scenes and what were the most
touching war scenes?

Hugh and Daniel.  The odd couple.  What do you think about those two?
Is Daniel in love with Craigmore?

 What Rye happenings seemed the most humorous to you? The “Board” meetings, the
repartee between the characters, the fete/parade….?

Good quotes:

Lord North;  "Writers," he said loudly. "Always writing instead of doing.  And then they have the most extraordinary opinions."
"A man of action is always to be preferred," said Mr. Tillingham.  
"Of course all such heroes require a scribe to record their great deeds, and I am your humble servant, Lord North."

I like how Mr. Tillingham did not take offense.  I suppose his ego did not allow it. :o)


Hugh to Daniel:

"But meanwhile, Daniel, you simply must recover your composure.  No good can come from physical or emotional dishevelment."

"I'm not sure I can face anyone." (Daniel)
"For goodness' sake, it's only Beatrice and Celeste," he said.  "You and Miss Celeste can look pale and interesting together.  Of course, she's come from a war zone.  Perhaps her situation will help your sense of perspective."

(I thought this picture from Downton Abbey would remind us of the WWI uniforms.)


These two make me laugh.  They are a little like the odd couple aren't they?
I like that the author included refugees in the story.  This is not something I have read much about.
Daniel is the wrong person to go to war.  I can't see him surviving it.

As section two ends...I wonder who will die in the war?
I wonder if Hugh and Beatrice end up together.  I hope so.

Please share you thoughts about this lovely book in the comments!
Quotes too.


thank you jep for the questions


  1. The Downton pic is perfect. I find myself picturing scenes from Downton Abbey, too, to imagine how people might look in Rye. :-)

    Regarding how the villagers responded to the refugees, it kind of annoyed me that the villagers didn’t want to take in the refugees if it was an inconvenience to them. They didn’t seem to mind splitting up families who had been through horrible things just so they could have their token one or two refugees to make them look good. Mr. Tillingham wanted the educated professor, but was not willing to also take in the professor’s daughter.

    Mrs. Fothergill: “One could also have wished for more genteel folk.
    It is quite impossible to ask our ladies to take absolute peasants into their own houses, however charming their wooden clogs.”

    Mrs. Turber is bothered by having the refugee that is staying with Beatrice take up any of Abigails’ work time until she sees how beautiful Celeste is and then she can’t do enough for her.

    I think Hugh and Daniel are a funny pair, also. I thought this was a humorous exchange:
    “Forgive my cousin,” said Hugh. He is only playing the fool.”
    “Really?” asked Beatrice. “He is so convincing.”
    “The balloon of my pride is thus pierced by the steel pin of your wit, Miss Nash,” said Daniel. “I shall deflate in a suitable chair.”

    Thanks for the book discussion! Hopefully, others are reading it as well?

  2. Hi Kim,
    I agree with you. The wealthy/upper class was terribly snobby and haughty. I'm sure that's why we like Agatha. She seems just a little nicer and kinder.
    It also drives me crazy that Beatrice has to fight for her own money! (from her dad) This really makes me so angry and frustrated for her. Can you imagine?

    It would feel horrible to be so looked down upon all the time. I'm glad I don't feel like that.

    Other people have said they are reading...maybe they gave up on me because I was so late to post.

  3. Hi ladies! I am worried about saying too much as I finished the book a while ago and don't want to give anything away. No spoilers! It was a very enjoyable read and I agree with Kim regarding the snobby villagers and their apparent lack of compassion for what the refugees had endured, and with Donna regarding poor Beatrice! Her father loved her dearly, I'm sure, but his arrangements regarding his estate did leave her rather high and dry. I loved Beatrice, Agatha Hugh and even Daniel. I'll have more to say when we get to the final section. :)

  4. Dear Donna, I *finally* finished. I love my hardbound edition from England, but I think I mentioned before that I didn't bring it with me on my travels because it was too bulky. Then I purchased the kindle version for my trip to the States, but was too busy galavanting around to read. Much less keep my kindle charged up.

    Excuses, excuses. I think the root of the matter was this: -I loved these characters and did not want to learn what happened to them in the war.

    I am really pleased I finished, I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was vastly different from Major Pettigrew, but that was ok. I loved the nephews, Agatha, Beatrice, and Mr. Kent. I tolerated Tillingham.

    Thanks for the lovely Downton photo. Like Kim, I imagined scenes based on footage from DA.

    I only realized the secret near the last bit. Good writing.

    I hope others persevere and finish :)


Hello. So nice to see you. Would you like to leave a comment? Be very kind.