George is just eighteen years old, lives with his parents and his younger siblings Ted and Lilly when he first met Violet during his deliveries as a postman. Violet was out for a walk taking photos as an escape from her duties, mainly being a companion to her sick mother The difference in their lives couldn’t be greater but George was bowled over by her beauty decides to give her one of the watercolours he has painted. Unknown to George as he hurried along to meet Violet the post he has to deliver to her that day her sparks a chain reaction that will change both their lives forever.
George goes off to war with a small group of friends and is soon dispatched to the front. Under the watchful eye of Edmund the young lads suffer the wet and the cold, the terror of the bombs and the seemingly futile push to stop the Germans advance into France.
Judith Allnatt does not sugar coat any of the horror of the war. This book eloquently shows what a generation of young men endured. There are descriptions of dead bodies left sinking in the mud and those who suffered with their injuries with no one to rescue them from the battlefield. I really feel that this book made me understand the true nature of this war, far from the statistics of non-fiction, this story about how George and his friends suffered and found their own way of coping and in doing so tells the stories of the men in an accessible, yet hard-hitting way. Despite the realities that were suffered, this is a story and a neatly plotted one at that, there are few enough characters that the author added layers to their personality over the course of the book which meant that as a reader I truly cared about so many of the fictional lives shared.
This is a fantastic book to read in the anniversary year of World War I.
This book will be published on 16 January 2013 by The Borough Press. I received an advance copy from Amazon Vine in return for this honest review.