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The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

Helen Simonson

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$32.99

Paperback

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English
Allen & Unwin
01 June 2024

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Constance Haverhill is a competent young woman who ran a great farming estate whilst the men were off fighting in the Great War. It is 1919 though, and she has lost her mother, home and position and while she tries to work out what to do next, accepts the job of accompanying an elderly family friend who is convalescing at the once-grand Meredith Hotel. There she meets the dashing Poppy Wirrall, an upper class girl who was a motorcycle dispatch rider in the war, and who has set up a female-chauffeured motorcycle business to convey the women of the district. As Constance falls in with Poppy and her concerns, she meets Poppy's war-damaged brother who is persuaded to return to flying when Poppy buys a wreck of a bi-plane with the goal of offering flying lessons for women.

A very fine historical novel with a light touch and interesting characters determined to find their way rather than be told what it is. It also shows how the war may have ended but the hostilities haven't, and how society is starting to shift upon its foundations, even if the old order just wants to go back to the way things were. I enjoyed this very much! Lindy

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'I loved this book! The glorious characters and evocative setting, as well as the portrayal of the era, are all beautifully balanced with a plot that had me so invested I didn't want it to end.' Amanda Hampson, bestselling author of The Tea Ladies

It is the summer of 1919 and Constance Haverhill is without prospects. Now that all the men have returned from the front, she has been asked to give up her cottage and her job at the estate she helped to run during the war. Instead, she's sent as a lady's companion to an old family friend who is convalescing at a seaside hotel where she is swept up in the social whirl of Hazelbourne-on-Sea and its colourful inhabitants, most notably, Poppy Wirrall.

Poppy, the daughter of a land-owning baronet, wears trousers, operates a taxi and delivery service to employ local women and runs a ladies' motorcycle club (to which she plans to add flying lessons). And then there is Harris, Poppy's recalcitrant but handsome brother - a fighter pilot recently wounded in battle - who warms in Constance's presence. But things are more complicated than they seem in this sunny pocket of English high society. As the country prepares to celebrate its hard-won peace, Constance and the women of the club are forced to confront the fact that the freedoms they gained during the war are being revoked.

In a timeless comedy of manners, with sharp humour, biting wit and a warm heart, Simonson captures the mood of a generation facing the seismic changes brought on by war.

'...an absolute joy of a book. Warm and romantic, it also has so much to say about the lives of women in the years following World War I. This is historical fiction of the highest order-pleasurable and smart.' Ann Napolitano, bestselling author of Hello Beautiful

'A thoughtful and witty tale... Readers are in for a treat.' Publishers Weekly

'Simonson brilliantly captures the pains of a generation of young people at a crossroads in an England ravaged by war and a flu epidemic, especially of the women who kept the home front going only to be tossed aside when the men came home...heartwarming and heartbreaking, and readers will be entranced.' STARRED Review, Booklist

Praise for The Summer Before the War:

'In picturesque Simonson style we wallow in love, hope and humour. Gentle, astute and observant.' - Australian Women's Weekly

'Simonson describes the era vividly in language matched to the times. Her compelling characters and their snappy dialogue illustrate a heart-wrenching tale [that] strikes a good balance between pathos and playfulness.' - Good Reading

'Read this book at your peril. By the time the camomile tea has chilled, two chapters in, you are hooked.' - Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum
By:  
Imprint:   Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   456g
ISBN:   9781761470684
ISBN 10:   176147068X
Pages:   432
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Helen Simonson was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics, she lives in the United States and is a dual citizen and proud New Yorker. Married, with two sons, she is the author of the bestselling novels Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Summer Before the War.

Reviews for The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Constance Haverhill is a competent young woman who ran a great farming estate whilst the men were off fighting in the Great War. It is 1919 though, and she has lost her mother, home and position and while she tries to work out what to do next, accepts the job of accompanying an elderly family friend who is convalescing at the once-grand Meredith Hotel. There she meets the dashing Poppy Wirrall, an upper class girl who was a motorcycle dispatch rider in the war, and who has set up a female-chauffeured motorcycle business to convey the women of the district. As Constance falls in with Poppy and her concerns, she meets Poppy's war-damaged brother who is persuaded to return to flying when Poppy buys a wreck of a bi-plane with the goal of offering flying lessons for women.

A very fine historical novel with a light touch and interesting characters determined to find their way rather than be told what it is. It also shows how the war may have ended but the hostilities haven't, and how society is starting to shift upon its foundations, even if the old order just wants to go back to the way things were. I enjoyed this very much! Lindy


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