Review – The Moon Field by Judith Allnatt

Happy New Year everyone!

I really hope 2015 will be a great year for all of you. It can only get better 🙂

New Year 2015

I’ve been very busy all through December preparing for Christmas, celebrating my birthday and visiting family. But I didn’t forget to read, so I’ve got a lot of reviews prepared for you. 🙂

The first year of Great War remembrance is over now and I read yet another Great War novel. This time it’s The Moon Field by Judith Allnatt.

The Moon Field
Image provided by Borough Press¹

In 1914, George Farrell, a young English postman decides to join the war in the heat of the moment when he learns that his crush Miss Violet is already promised to someone else. When George and his comrades arrive in France, they are surprised that they are to fight at the front like professional soldiers.

George soon finds himself knee-deep in mud. The cold and wet is creeping into his bones. Reading about the deafening noise of exploding shells and the stench of decomposing bodies is almost unbearable and you’ll start to understand that you can’t imagine what it must have been like for millions of soldiers who fought this war.

While George fights at the front, his best friend Kitty is at home doing men’s jobs and she really enjoys being able to do so. She knows what she wants but has to live a life restricted by society and class. While Kitty is the hard-working girl walking straight into a modern world, Miss Violet seems like a fading picture of a past era. She’s like a princess in a castle waiting for Prince Charming to come and save her.

The plot switches between George’s, Miss Violet’s and Kitty’s view  In the beginning, Miss Violet’s plotline is most gripping, but that changes as soon as George joins the war. Even though it takes a bit to get going and you’ll definitely need a sturdy stomach, The Moon Field is a truly rewarding read.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780007522972/the-moon-field

Review – The Storms of War by Kate Williams

Hi,

Don’t judge a book by its cover! This sentence holds especially true for Kate WilliamsThe Storms of War. Don’t expect your usual light historical/romantic fiction fare. Why? Just read my review.

Thank you Orion Books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Storms of War
Image provided by Orion Books¹
Synopsis quoted from Orion Books¹:

In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. Rudolf and Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter Emmeline, while their eldest son, Arthur, is studying in Paris and Michael is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood, and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped-out future and exploring the world.

But the onslaught of war changes everything and soon the de Witts find themselves sidelined and in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age to join the war effort and finds herself embroiled in a complex plot that puts not only herself but those she loves in danger.

My Thoughts:

Kate Williams’ The Storms of War is set during the Great War in England and France and the detailed descriptions of the various settings help you to envision what the war must have been like. While Williams paints a clear picture of the gruesome wartime at the Western Front in France, she doesn’t forget to also write about the state of her settings before and after the war. One of these places is Stoneythorpe Hall, the home of the de Witt family, and I really enjoyed reading about how it changed during the war.

In my opinion, this novel is the coming-of-age story of Celia de Witt, our main character. She is the youngest of the de Witt children and after the war breaks out she has to grow up very fast. Child-like, dreamy and naive Celia soon adapts to the harsh reality of the wartime and turns into a practical young woman. Only later in the book, she somehow seems to be out of character for a short while. I could write a lot about the other characters. They all seem to have their own story to tell which isn’t surprising, as this is the first book in a trilogy.

As I said before, when I saw the cover of The Storms of War, I expected light historical/romantic fiction. What I didn’t expect is a novel that is filled with blood and causes so much pain. I was glad it turned out that way. The Storms of War is a well-researched book that I’d recommend to everyone who can stomach a hefty dose of war and its consequences on people’s lives.

4beans

¹ https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781409139881

Review – My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

Hi,

The month is almost over and I’m a little behind on reviews. 😉 Today you’ll get another review that fits the Great War Centenary topic. I read Louisa Young‘s My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You which was shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Novel Award.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
Image provided by Harper Collins UK¹
Synopsis quoted from Harper Collins UK¹:

A letter, two lovers, a terrible lie. In war, truth is only the first casualty.

While Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke fight for their country, their survival and their sanity in the trenches of Flanders, Nadine Waveney, Julia Locke and Rose Locke do what they can at home. Beautiful, obsessive Julia and gentle, eccentric Peter are married: each day Julia goes through rituals to prepare for her beloved husband’s return. Nadine and Riley, only eighteen when the war starts, and with problems of their own already, want above all to make promises – but how can they when the future is not in their hands? And Rose? Well, what did happen to the traditionally brought-up women who lost all hope of marriage, because all the young men were dead?

My Thoughts:

Louisa Young’s historical novel My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You is set in early 20th century England and France. While Ms Young did thoroughly research the time the book is set in, I had problems envisioning the setting, especially the scenes that are set at the Western Front, even though I am familiar with what it looked like from pictures.

The novel’s main characters are Riley Purefoy, Nadine Waveney, Peter and Julia Locke as well as Rose Locke, but those who most stand out are Riley and Julia. Riley, whose life we witness from his boyhood onwards, goes through a lot of changes and there comes a time when he even turns into a quite unlikeable fellow. Nevertheless, his character always stays believable. Julia Locke is the perfect characterization of a wife without purpose. Staying at home, nobody thinks her capable of doing something useful, so she slowly begins to lose her mind.

My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You starts out slow-paced but picks up so much speed in the second half that I wasn’t able to put it down. The novel switches between England and France, home and the Western Front. All main characters get their share of attention and so the reader is able to see the war and its effects from different perspectives. My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You gives us a glimpse of human tragedy and hope during the Great War and to add a little special something, Louisa Young provides insight into the history of the first successful plastic surgeries.

4beans

If you are interested in more info on the plastic surgeries done by Sir Harold D. Gillies, you can read his book Plastic Surgery of the Face online here: (Warning: Contains images of facial gunshot wounds): https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7141634M/Plastic_surgery_of_the_face

¹ http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/titles/9780007361441/my-dear-i-wanted-to-tell-you-louisa-young