The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson

About the book

The Perfect Summer chronicles a glorious English summer a century ago, when the world was on the cusp of irrevocable change. Through the tight lens of four months, Juliet Nicolson’s rich storytelling gifts rivet us with the sights, colors, and feelings of a bygone era. That summer of 1911 a new king was crowned and the aristocracy was at play, bounding from one house party to the next. But perfection was not for all. Cracks in the social fabric were showing. The country was brought to a standstill by industrial strikes. Temperatures rose steadily to more than 100 degrees; by August deaths from heatstroke were too many for newspapers to report. Drawing on material from intimate and rarely seen sources and narrated through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals–among them a debutante, a choirboy, a politician, a trade unionist, a butler, and the queen–The Perfect Summer is a vividly rendered glimpse of the twilight of the Edwardian era.

Reviewed by Botley Book Circle:

We felt that there was more focus on the ‘aristocracy’ than the ‘man on the street’ and we would like to have had the other perspective. Some of the group are now interested in learning more about this period of history through other books.

Star rating: ***

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Falling angels by Tracy Chevalier

About the book

One cold January morning, in the wake of Queen Victoria’s death, two young sets of eyes meet across the graves at Highgate Cemetery. One pair belongs to smartly dressed Lavinia Waterhouse, whose mother clings to the traditional values she sees slipping away; the other to Maude Coleman, whose mother longs to escape the stifling grip of Victorian society. Thrust together by the girls’ friendship, these two very different families embark on a new century that promises electricity, emancipation and other changes that will shake the very foundations of their lives.

Reviewed by Literary Ladies Reading Group:

Most enjoyed this book, although it was not as good as ‘Pearl Earring’. Some irritation with method of retelling same incident from point of view of several people; this seems commonly used device at the moment.

Star rating: ***

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