This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
It’s 1914 and beautiful debutante, Vivian, is busy worrying about filling her dance card and catching the eye of the very good-looking man she is determined to marry. A naïve mistake leads to a scandal, however, and Vivian’s priorities are changed forever. On the day she marries a man she does not love war breaks out. Vivian finds herself left alone in the country – exiled from her cold-hearted mother – while her new husband goes to war.
Howard is more interested in writing plays than fighting a war he does not agree with. When the pressures of society and responsibility result in him writing reports on the real horrors of war, his beliefs that war should be avoided at all costs are confirmed. Instead of conforming, he faces the consequences and ends up imprisoned for his beliefs. When he is offered a reprieve, working on Vivian’s farm, he learns that some things in life really are worth fighting for.
Vivian Foster, at the start of the book, is completely superficial and annoyingly empty-headed. Her marriage to Aubrey Owens is loveless and tedious. While Vivian is bitter about having to settle for a man she finds boring, Aubrey seems unable to display any passion for his new wife. Neither seem aware of how husbands and wives should behave. Before they have a chance to get to know each other, Aubrey has signed up and is whisked away to war. Vivian is left to fend for herself, far away from London, parties and the society that she knew. I didn’t expect her to manage but she is determined to rise to every challenge and soon her appearance is the last thing she thinks of. This was when I fell in love with her character! By the end of the book, she has transformed into an independent, thoughtful woman who concerns herself with the welfare of the local children and others when she realises she is able to help them through her privileged position.
Howard is similarly superficial, relying on his devastatingly handsome and writing talent to get him through life. His character gives the book another dimension. We see the war through the eyes of a conscientious objector (a conchie). His time writing on the front line leaves him devastated. His experiences are fascinating but also heart-breaking.The novel spans through to the end of the war and is full of adventure, challenges, tragedy but also life. This is one of those novels that pulls you in without you realising it has happened. I wanted to read endlessly but didn’t want to end. It's perfect.
A completely encompassing journey through time with two spectacular characters.