The Summer Before the War is Helen Simonson’s newest novel that pulls in almost all the expected types of people who would have been affected by the start of the first World War.  Beatrice Nash is a well-educated young woman who has just been hired as the first woman to teach Latin at a small grammar school in Rye, England.  She needed to find a way to support herself after the death of her father.

Mrs. Agatha Kent acted as her sponsor, encouraging the school to hire Beatrice.  She tries to protect Beatrice from petty attitudes of those who are not ready to accept a woman teaching such a serious and important (for the time) subject.  Agatha’s nephews, Hugh Grange and Daniel Bookham are part of an extended family, providing Beatrice with encouragement when some of her actions are criticized.  The novel is a wonderful depiction of how difficult life could be for a young, single woman when she is forced to earn her own living during this era.  The many characters have varied roles in the inevitable war, from diplomat to foot soldier.  The novel is an immersion into life in an English town struggling with the start of war.


get book button

get ebook button


Vegetable Butcher


The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini is satisfyingly compiled and creatively pictured. The book demonstrates exactly how to select, cut and use vegetables you may not even have been able to name as you see them freshly arrayed in your local grocery or farmers market.

Why not make this the year to try some new vegetables? I have never tried celery root, tomatillos and wouldn’t know what to do with sunchokes, but the author shows you how to prepare these and many more. Plus she includes recipes that look delicious.

After reading this book you will be able to identify types of lettuce, mushrooms (she names fourteen types), and herbs you find in the grocery store. You may discover a new favorite that you have deprived yourself of for years just because you didn’t know what it was or how to prepare it. An excellent resource, this book works well for anyone, especially for those who don’t have time to watch food shows on television.

get book button