The Summer Before the War

Aunt Agatha says there isn't going to be a war," said Daniel, coming in behind her, laughing. "And so of course there won't be. They would never dream of defying her.

But if all else fails, I can always write her a sonnet.” “A sonnet?” said Hugh. “No woman can resist having her name rhymed with a flower in iambic pentameter,” said Daniel.

Her favourite summer memories were not of events themselves, of picnics, sea bathing, tennis afternoons and cricket matches, but of watching Hugh and Daniel enjoying them and locking into memory the delight in their faces and their open laughter.

How anyone could doubt the patriotism of my dachshunds is just shocking,

Humiliation is the sport of the petty

I can’t abide people who dislike dogs,

In lontananza, il mare illuminato dalla luna era una scintillante distesa d'argento.

I said we would be informal,” said Agatha. “I did not say we would be eccentric.

Is it that our needs grew smaller?” asked Hugh. “Or is it just that the fear and deprivation makes one appreciate simple things more?” “I think our ability to be happy gets covered up by the years of petty rubbing along in the world, the getting ahead,” said Daniel. “But war burns away all the years of decay, like an old penny dropped into vinegar.

I think I would make a most interesting widow," said Lucy. She smoothed a wayward ringlet of hair behind her ear and smiled. "Not that one would wish such a state on anyone, but a sensible woman might use the gravity of the position to great authority in these times."
Hugh was not sure of the correct conversational response to such an offer - if she had indeed just offered to be his widow. He was searching about for an answer when the train whistle blew (pg 473)

It is the unexpected note that makes the poem. You, Hugh, are the unexpected note. (pg 554)

It’s only now I realize how easy it was to do so on the backs of other women’s sons.

It was the cheapest kind of rebuke, to call a woman ugly, but one to which small boys and grown men seemed equally quick to stoop when feeling challenged.

I would prefer you did not apologize for anyone else,” she said. “My father always says that if we were as quick to own our own faults as we are to apologize for those of others, society might truly advance.

Mio padre dice sempre che, se fossimo pronti a riconoscere le nostre mancanze come lo siamo a scusarci per qualcun altro, la società farebbe realmente dei progressi.

Most of all I remember that what begins with drums and fife, flags and bunting, becomes too swiftly a long and grey winter of the spirit.

My God, the light is so good all the women risk looking their age.

My parents told me to marry for money,' said her husband. 'But I chose the love of a strong woman.'

'And look what trouble I turned out to be,' she said.

Non c'è donna che non diventi graziosa quando sorride.


she gathered up a few thoughts of the lovelier parts of the afternoon and stowed them away in the back of her mind, where they might remind her at some future date that lovely afternoons do not survive the chill of dusk.

She remembered a sudden feeling of anger towards him, as if it were his fault that the sun and breeze did not restore him, and a swift shame in the recognition of her own selfish desire not to have to endure his decline. They

She was of that certain age when the bloom of youth must give way to strength of character, but her face was handsome in its intelligent eyes and commanding smile, and her hair retained a youthful spring as it threatened to escape from its carefully pinned rolls. Beatrice, who was tired of people feeling free to interrogate on her determination to live free of a husband, bit her lip and did not answer.

Suffragettes!” whispered Agatha as if communicating a great scandal. “I’m quite sure invitations to tea are being quietly withdrawn all over the room.

These were people who knew more than they said and who understood more quickly than those who talked more.

they sat a moment in an embrace of silent mutual comfort, which was, she often thought, the reward of those long married.

They sat a moment in embrace of silent mutual comfort, which was, she often thought, the reward of those long married.

War does have a way of interfering with one's most closely held desires.

Youth's lost companion may be the measured friend of old age, I hope", said Daniel. "I may write a poem on the subject."
"Dear God, it sounds more like a cross-stitched pillow than a poem," said Hugh.