British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, I reported on Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a snap election to consolidate support ahead of the Brexit negotiations with the EU. Heather reviewed a couple of foodie reads set in England. Becky reviewed The Magician’s Nephew, #6 in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Sim is, naturally, getting very excited about her upcoming trip to England.

Today’s post consists of short reviews of novels that I’ve read recently.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

A story about a teacher in the months before and after the start of World War I

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the seventh novel of the Maisie Dobbs series featuring a female detective based in London in the interwar period. I enjoyed this one because of the cartography theme. I hadn’t realized how useful mapmakers are during war time.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. Simonson also wrote Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, but the two books are very different. I enjoyed them both, but that’s by no means going to apply to everyone. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand had a contemporary setting with themes about aging and multiculturalism. The Summer Before the War is historical (the war in the title is World War I) and highlights the lives of the young people who had to make hard choices about service and relationships. Both are set in English villages and each has a great cast of characters. So, that’s going to appeal to most of us #BriFri readers.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. Thanks to Tina of Novel Meals for sending me her ARC of this book! Here’s her review: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. I loved reading this book set in an English village at the beginning of World War II right after finishing The Summer Before the War. I tend to forget how close those two wars were. The young teacher who participated in committee work in The Summer Before the War could easily have run a similar committee, as a village matron, in The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. England knew how to be a home front in 1939 because they’d done it 25 years earlier. It reminds me of how much easier it was to put together my mother’s funeral three years after my dad’s. These aren’t things that one necessarily wants to be an expert in, but needs must and stiff upper lip and all that.

Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh. This is the second in Balogh’s series that began with Someone to Love. One of the least likable characters in the first book is the heroine of the second book. It’s always fun to see how an author can redeem a character like that. The other fun aspect of this book is that it’s set in Bath. I loved re-visiting in my mind the places that I visited in real life in 2014 — Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, the Royal Circus, and more.

Pulteney Bridge from the Parade Gardens

Pulteney Bridge in Bath, England, from the Parade Gardens



Brit Books Reviews #BriFri — 6 Comments

  1. I have not been able to get into ‘The Summer Before The War’. I will have to try again. I just finished “The Trespasser’ by Tana French. Irish cop mystery that I really enjoyed.

  2. Pingback: The Crown #BriFri – Joy's Book Blog

  3. I loved the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and will be recommending it to everyone this summer!

    Also, thought you might be interested in my blog,, where Monday to Friday I round up news and views from British books and publishing

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