My favorite read in 2017 turns out to be the second book I finished, way back on January 6: The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson.
The novel published in 2016. I decided to read it in part because my book club back in Maryland had read and enjoyed her debut novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
What did I love so much about The Summer Before the War? I loved the bookish, intelligent heroine, Beatrice Nash, who struggles against convention to make her way in Edwardian England after her father’s death. I loved Agatha Kent, the older woman who champions her. I loved the glimpse of a simpler, more innocent world that’s about to come crashing down.
Like Major Pettigrew, The Summer Before the War tackled serious issues of class and race. Major is ultimately a lighter read. Many fans of the Simonson’s first book didn’t like the followup, perhaps because of its melancholy tinge.
Tell me, readers: What was the best thing you read in 2017?