Thursday, 6 February 2014

War Books Wishlist

Is it weird to want enough books centred on World War I to be able to devote an entire wishlist to it? This isn't even all of them! I've always been fascinated by the first half of the 20th century, especially World Wars I and II; so much so that my best friend from secondary school used to say that all I read was war books! I don't know exactly why I find that era so interesting - I think it's a combination of the radical change the wars brought about (especially for women) and the romantic idea of a different, more earnest time with simpler lives and (sometimes misguided) unquestioning patriotism. Doing a WWI literature module for English Lit A Level only fuelled this little obsession, and so considering 2014 is the centenary of the beginning of the First World War I thought sharing some books on the topic would be appropriate!

The Eye In The Door and The Ghost Road are the sequels to one I read for my English Lit A Level, Regeneration, a book I would definitely recommend to anyone! It's about a group of soldiers in 1918 at Craiglockhart War Hospital and their army psychiatrist, and it's a really fascinating exploration of the damage of war on the psyche. I've heard that the rest of the trilogy is equally good, so maybe I'll finally get around to reading it this year...

Wake - Five Days in November, 1920: As the body of the Unknown Soldier makes its way home from the fields of Northern France, three women are dealing with loss in their own way: Hettie, who dances for sixpence a waltz at the Hammersmith Palais; Evelyn, who toils at a job in the pensions office, and Ada, a housewife who is beset by visions of her dead son. One day a young man comes to her door. He carries with him a wartime mystery that will bind these women together and will both mend and tear their hearts. A portrait of three intertwining lives caught at the faultline between empire and modernity, Wake captures the beginnings of a new era, and the day the mood of the nation changed for ever.

The Lie - Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK's most acclaimed storytellers. Cornwall, 1920, early spring. A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family. Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life. Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him. He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?

Public Schools and The Great War - The book examines the impact which the Great War had on the Public Schools and the sacrificial contribution made to the victory which came in 1918. The war consumed about a fifth of all the public schoolboys who fought, while the survivors were scarred by the loss of so many friends. Based largely on source material from school archives and histories, it moves from the naive excitement of the summer of 1914 to the many moving stories that emerge from the carnage of the Western Front. It looks at school life in those war years, boys with their futures on hold and the prospect of death always very close, Headmasters and staff devastated by the loss of so many young lives.

So those are my top five books I'd like to read to commemorate the centenary; anyone out there got any other recommendations?

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