The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm

The Perfect Summer England Just Before the Storm 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 gi

  • Title: The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm
  • Author: Juliet Nicolson
  • ISBN: 9780802118462
  • Page: 422
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 partyThe 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 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.

    • The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm - Juliet Nicolson
      422 Juliet Nicolson
    • thumbnail Title: The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm - Juliet Nicolson
      Posted by:Juliet Nicolson
      Published :2019-06-14T16:10:59+00:00


    About “Juliet Nicolson

    • Juliet Nicolson

      Juliet Nicolson is the author of The Perfect Summer England 1911, Just Before the Storm and The Great Silence Britain From the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age She read English at Oxford University and has worked in publishing in both the UK and the United States She has two daughters, and lives with her husband in Sussex.



    382 thoughts on “The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm

    • I loved the subject matter of this book, but about three chapters in, I decided it just had to go back to the library because the writing was driving me crazy. An editor I knew once said that one of his reporters seemed to organize his stories by cutting his notes into pieces and pasting them randomly on the page. Juliet Nicolson is guilty of something similar. While she tries to organize this book chronologically, she seems to lack almost all sense of transition, so you can be reading about the [...]


    • A lovely, thought-provoking portrait of England before the First World War. Like 1599, it is a biography not of a person but of a year. I loved the way it brought together people whose names we all know (Churchill, George V, Nijinsky, Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf) with others less well known, authors like Elinor Glyn and Vita Sackville West (the author's grandmother), early union leaders Ben Tillett and Mary Macarthur, tattle-tale butler Eric Horne, and Churchill's fierce political enemy but de [...]


    • Using diaries and other records, Ms. Nicholson guides the reader through 4 months of England in 1911 - the hottest summer on record. King George's Coronation was held that year and his wife, Mary confronts her fears of being Queen. Her mother-in-law refuses to move out to the Dowager House. Winston Churchill and F.E. Smith are enemies on the floor of Parliament but the best of friends otherwise. Virginia Smith (later Woolf), Rupert Brooke, Lytton Strachey, Rudyard Kipling, and other poets and wr [...]


    • I have lukewarm feelings about this book. At times it was very interesting and I gained a general understanding of the culture of England in 1911. However, I felt that this book would have benefitted from some tighter editing. The author jumped between topics with no warning. I found myself having to go back several times and re-read paragraphs because I couldn't figure out how we got from one topic to the next. In many cases, there was no rhyme or reason as to where we ended up.This book was ob [...]


    • Enjoyable, although slightly odd look at the long hot summer of 1911. There are lots of interesting facts and insights into daily life; mainly for the upper classes and their servants. There were also some interesting leads to other books and references to follow and find. The focus is mainly on the upper classes with the Royal Family and members of the government having some prominence, along with some of their wives and daughters. These are predictable and confirm that the sex lives and loves [...]


    • Set against the backdrop of the long hot Summer of 1911 we see English life through the eyes of several different people including * Queen Mary (who's husband George V was to be crowned the new King in May) and who 'had never felt so lonely' * Politician Winston Churchill * Lady Diana Manners (a debutante) who was looking forward to a Summer of relentless partying * War Poet Siegfried Sasson who, in the middle of the summer, said 'We seemed to have forgotten that there was such a thing as the fu [...]


    • I was very disappointed in this book. The writing was not very good. It reminded me of a 7th grader assigned to write a report, reading the encyclopedia, and listing the facts and pertinent information with no interest whatsoever, just to get it done. In fact I did not finish the last 3 chapters, and quickly skimmed the ones I did read. The sense of the lifestyles and politics and clothing styles were all very familiar to me just from watching Downton Abbey. There was one chapter describing the [...]


    • I loved this book. I am both a history buff and an Anglophile, so this was the answer to two of my favorite wishes. Because Nicolson was related to some of the historical characters in the book, she made the history live with intimate stories and feelings. I had known some of the English history mentioned, but the information about the strike situation was new to me. I also liked that she included information about the arts of the time; the Russian ballet, English poets and academicians and wond [...]


    • This book, written by the grand daughter of Vita Sackville-West, focuses on 5 months in 1911 (May-September). Why should it interest us? It covers an unnaturally hot summer in which the temperatures soar to 85-100F, a drought ensues, national strikes shut down many industries, the docks and the railways, children walk out on their classes in protest and Germany begins it's move towards 1914.The book doesn't focus on just one class - it witnesses the summer through the eyes of aristocrats, their [...]


    • Non-fiction about the lives of people in England before WWI. I liked it but it didn't hold my attention completely.


    • I read this book when it was first published and just got around to reviewing it, after a quick re-read. I have since read The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War by this author and loved it, so with hindsight, I can say that I didn't like this one as well but still give it four stars.Nicolson gives us a look at the summer months of 1911 when England was suffering one of its greatest heat waves. Tempers were short as Churchill, as Home Secretary, aggravated the Parliam [...]


    • Juliet Nicholson's The Perfect Summer had promise, but it didn't fulfill my expectations. I was looking for a book that chronicled the summer, but had an argument. Nicholson failed to present a lucid historical argument and because of this, the book meandered.I was not captivated and it took me far too long to finish the book. I had to put it down only to pick it back up weeks or months later. As a history major, I was expecting to enjoy this novel and learn something about British society in th [...]


    • Nicolson's eagerly awaited exploration of the Summer of 1911 is interesting, entertaining in places, even - but quite scattershot. The threads never quite come together in this erratically woven recounting of the political, social, and economic climate in one of England's hottest summers just preceding the First World War. A familiarity, if not long acquaintance, with the many of the leading characters of the day is desirable, as Nicolson's swift transitions leave little room for introductions. [...]


    • For the privileged, 1911 was the last golden year of the Edwardian era in Britain. Juliet Nicolson, granddaughter of author Vita Sackville-West, delightfully evokes the ennui, scandals, and excess of that blisteringly hot summer when the English “danced on the edge of the abyss”. By focusing on the lives of the shy new Queen of England, the young, ambitious Winston Churchill, the beautiful, audacious debutante, Lady Diana Manners, the naughty, extravagant aristocracy, an observant, enterpris [...]


    • An absolutely magnificent collection of wonderful tidbits of information about a single summer, which comes together as a sharp-eyed portrait of a culture and place. Nicholson mixes gossip and statistics with quotes from queens, butlers, socialites, socialists, and poets, to give a well-rounded sense of England in that turbulent summer of 1911. The culture was changing with lightning speed; technological progress had eroded the age-old truce between the landed gentry and the poor masses, and the [...]


    • To me, this book had a lot of promise and an intriguing premise -- an historical account of English society in the summer before World War I broke out. England was experiencing an unusual summer in that it was sunny and warmpossibly too warm. The book jacket promised insights to various societal levels but I felt like the book focused primarily on the upper crust, which wasn't as interesting to me. I liked the chapter that focused on Churchill and his main political rivalI think I would've enjoy [...]


    • I'm giving this a 5-star, even though this is a new writer. The writing style resembles stream of consciousness during the transitions, which is the weakest link in the book. However, the writer really makes you feel the concerns surrounding each social group she covers. This really tied this period of history together for me. I've studied different aspects of this period, but this is the first writer that I've read that has covered so many social elements in parallel - really helped my understa [...]


    • I'd never heard of this book until I saw it advertised by the publisher in the previous book I enjoyed. The subject fascinated me and I expected to learn more about the shift from the class system of upstairs downstairs fame to a blurring of the roles. A biography of a summer was an interesting format. But it is terribly written, little more than a reporter's notebook of jotted facts without transition. And the vast majority of the book relays boring facts about fashion and hair style of the ric [...]


    • about a very interesting summer. The Summer of 1914 has been explored in many books, most notably by Barbara Tuchman, but here, Ms Nicolson writes about a very important season a few years earlier. The weather was hot, the new King and Queen were being coronated, and society was in a gentle upheaval. Edward VII's death the previous year truly ended the Victorian age and all sorts of "new things" were being done by members of all levels of society.Nicolson writes easily about the time and the peo [...]


    • Edwardian England is my favorite time period: before the upheaval and tragedy of the first WW, but with enough elements of modern life to make it imaginable. Nicolson does a lovely job of letting us in to the lives of a few Edwardian notables, writers, artists, politicians, and activists in that magical time out of The Wind in the Willows when no one seemed to care what the children got up to, and when adults were trying out new ideas amidst fabulous wealth or squalor.I'd expect Downton Abbey fa [...]


    • That tiny moment between the Edwardian era and the outbreak of the First World War which is mostly forgotten. This book takes a closer look at one long, hot summer when things did happen, where the new was replacing a lot of the old but when the thought of war was still far away. The chapters are displayed as chronological - but their subjects are mostly thematic all the same (for example the Russian ballet is found in chapter 'Late July', the royalties and above all the queen in chapter 'Early [...]


    • A mishmash of historical trivia and some impactful events with the only common element being they happened in the same few months in the same country. While the writer tries to create a synthesized perspective, it feels like she just read through one daily newpaper after another from that period and threw miscellaneous items that caught her eye onto paper. (The book is written chronologically, with chapter such as "Early June" and "Late June", which doesn't help). She provides some interesting d [...]


    • I expected this book to read like a story, describing one "perfect" summer in England before the storm picked up and finally carried away so many of the young men who had danced their way through 1911. Unfortunately, it read more like a textbook or a long list of who did what and when, without a continuing narrative thread to weave it all together. I grew weary of it about 1/4 of the way through the book and decided to put it down.


    • Meh - I think my many years of reading history NOT for fun has resulted in expectations in historical works that many pop writers just can't meet. It's filled with anecdotal detail but I don't see any sort of numbers to back larger information up. It's like pretty stories without any framework. It does make one realize, however, that the whole "what's the matter with kids today" thing is NOT a late 20th century development.


    • I wanted to like this more than I did -- the material is catnip, but it never quite gels. The chronological arrangement necessitates a fair amount of skipping around between characters and places, leading to confusion and odd juxtapositions. More curiously, the stories Nicolson tells undermine her title. The summer sounds far from perfect; too hot, too dry, beset with labor unrest and worries about war with Germany.


    • This book could have been good, but I read about 70 pages and was just bored to tears. The editing is terrible--the subject matter is all choppy and mixed up. There is no flow to the book at all. I don't care about half the things discussed in the book, either, so the poor construction didn't help. Had to DNF this one.


    • Fluffy, lifted from published memoirs and written without footnotes or citation of the sources. If this style of writing is meant to reflect the author's view of Edwardians as hollow, derivative, flailing and unprepared for reality, it succeeds beautifully


    • I found this book by chance while I was spending the afternoon at the library with my son. I don't normally choose non-fiction, but I was drawn to the book because of the time period it covers. I was not diappointed. It reads like a novel and provides great detail of pre-war England society.


    • Nicolson takes one long hot summer in England and paints a picture of life just before the First World War. Tales are taken from the gentry as well as the lower classes giving a broad view of society and the way life and England was changing for all social spheres. Interesting and well written.


    • I was _really_ looking forward to this book but was totally disappointed. It read at times like a really boring diary and at times like silly society pages. I guess it was building a mood, but not a mood I was into.


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