Six years before it was summer, and the world was at peace. On a lark, she's decided to take up her British pen pal's invitation to a three week stay in the Oxfordshire countryside. Robin Fennel puzzles and fasicinates her. The middle part of the book takes us back six years, to that idyllic time. Katherine and Robin's relationship does not fit into any standard romantic paradigm. It is all too subtle for that, and I'd love to see this exquisitely written novel turned into one of those wonderfully atmospheric films the British excell at.
Once again, it is good to read a World War II story, free of latter day cliches, and the teary-eyed romanticism typical of its own period. This book is rather more rewarding than Larkin's first effort, Jill, in that the lead character -- he does a wonderful job with a woman, by the way -- is more complex, mature and knowing than the hapless John Kemp of Jill.
There is also a hint towards a happy ending, though the ultimate outcome would depend on both characters surviving the war. A beautiful book and a pleasure.