Take a Back Seat, Scarlett O'Hara!

This was a story that I had great difficulty in putting down ... but also great difficulty in reading. The Last Summer is beautifully written with very real and wonderful characters who evoke a world far removed from our own. Clarissa is dreamy and manages to hold on to a certain degree of innocence (despite everything she is put through) that really makes her someone special. Her relationship with Tom manages to survive every trial that life, society, the war, and their respective families and friends throw their way. It is always heartwarming to read a story of love which does manage to overcome everything and survive, and in such a believable way.

The hard part of reading this book is the aspects of reality which stormed through Clarissa and Tom's world. The outbreak of World War I began with a fanfare of patriotism and national belief in Old Britannia's right and duty to make safe the civilized world from the barbaric ravages of "the Hun." They quickly and tragically learned just how wrong they were to be proven. This book is a vivid and heartbreaking reflection of the seeming-unending and viscous Great War and its aftermath, which wrenched England into modern times. It is stark and sometimes brutal. The good and the innocent die, and even those left "safe" at home struggle as heroically as the boys at the Front to live another day. The period detail and the attention given to the less glamorous side of life during this dark time for the British home front is spot-on and intensely presented.

This is a beautiful story. It is a tragic story. This story brings to life a bleak time, but promises the hope of the will to endure. Love may not conquer all, but it can be the light which guides us home and keeps us warm when far away. Clarissa and Tom are a marvelous pair and their story is worth a read. Bravo!