War Through The Generations Challenge: The Great War

“In 2012, Anna and I could not pass up the opportunity to delve into WWI, often considered The Great War, which occurred roughly between 1914 to 1918 and started roughly with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

The WWI Reading Challenge will be held between Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2012.

Books must have WWI as a primary or secondary theme and occur before, during, or after the war.”

I’m not signing up for too many things next year, but I must sign up for this. I’ve been waiting for this theme ever since the WW2 challenge ended, and I have a wonderful pool of books to hand:

William: an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton

“A 1919 novel about the harrowing effect of the First World War on William, a socialist clerk, and Griselda, a suffragette. “

We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone

“First published in 1932, this semi-autobiographical novel is one of the broadest accounts of the work of women during the First World War – of the mixture of foreboding and gaiety at YMCA camps in France, the exhaustion and horror of nursing as a VAD, and the strain of automaton work in a munitions factory. Following the progress of Joan Seddon and her friends, as the patriotic fervour of 1915 gives way to the empty postwar years, We That Were Young recreates the detail of their contribution to the war effort. And, in vividly evoking the minutiae of daily life, the spirit and companionship, the optimism and despair, of those caught up in the War which destroyed their youth, it also presents a valuable social portrait of an era. “

Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith

“She is one of “England’s Splendid Daughters”,  an ambulance driver at the French front.  Working all hours of the day and night, witness to the terrible wreckage of war, her firsthand experience contrasts sharply with her altruistic expectations.  And one of her most painful realisations is that those like her parents, who preen themselves on visions of glory, have no concept of the devastation she lives with and no wish for their illusions to be shaken.  First published in 1930, this harsh and unforgettable novel provides a stinging denunciation of the futility of war.”

Journey’s End by R C Sheriff

“Set in the First World War, ‘Journey’s End’ concerns a group of British officers on the front line and opens in a dugout in the trenches in France. Raleigh, a new eighteen-year-old officer fresh out of English public school, joins the besieged company of his friend and cricketing hero Stanhope, and finds him dramatically changed …Laurence Olivier starred as Stanhope in the first performance of  ‘Journey’s End’ in 1928; the play was an instant stage success and remains a remarkable anti-war classic.”

Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias

“Drawing deeply from Lily Tobias’ own experience, this is the moving story about the treatment of conscientious objectors during the First World War, first published in 1933. The spoilt daughter of a Cardiff industrialist,Eunice is outraged when her teacher husband refuses to fight. Her refusal to visit him in jail has disastrous consequences and repercussions which are still affecting her as another war threatens.”

A Very Long Engagement by Sébastian Japrisot

“In January 1917, five wounded French soldiers, their hands bound behind them, are brought to the front at Picardy by their own troops, forced into the no-man’s land between the French and German armies, and left to die in the cross fire.  Their brutal punishment has been hushed up for more than two years when Mathilde Donnay, unable to walk since childhood, begins a relentless quest to find out whether her fiancé, officially “killed in the line of duty,” might still be alive.  Tipped off by a letter from a dying soldier, the shrewd, sardonic, and wonderfully imaginative Mathilde scours the country for information about the men.  As she carries her search to its end, an elaborate web of deception and coincidence emerges, and Mathilde comes to an understanding of the horrors, and the acts of kindness, brought about by war.”

I have some non fiction in mind. Poetry too.

I’m sure to find more books I want to read along the way.

And suggestions and recommendations would be very welcome …

10 responses

  1. I don’t really have anything to add except that you have fantastic books on your list. I assume you’ve read Vera Brittain before?

  2. A Very Long Engagement is just wonderful. The movie adaptation is excellent as well. I’ve also read William, An Englishman which is pretty heartbreaking, but also wonderful.

  3. What an interesting selection of books you’ve chosen! I haven’t made a list for the challenge yet but I do have a copy of Not So Quiet, so I’ll probably be reading that one too.

  4. Oh no another tempting challenge. No, Fiona you mustn’t and you can’t even think of any WW1 novels you even have on your shelf anyway. Oh well book mark this maybe I’ll find some.

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