World War l and the surrounding years.
WWI is only now reaching a point in history where the first person accounts will no longer be available. We know all the old soldiers are gone and the few living witnesses are dwindling in numbers. It is such a fascinating time to visit; a time when one can be witness to the horrors that humans are capable of committing, but also the strength and perseverance that can also be attributed to our species. The stories from the battlefields are famous but there are also family stories and the stories of individual bravery. This time period offers a great background for historical fiction because it allows the reader to be a witness to the turmoil and the change that accompanied this important time. Sometimes I need to remind myself that , as the reader, I have the advantage of knowing certain things about history and I simply can’t imagine what it must have been like to deal with all that loss and heartache while wondering if it will all be for nothing. The war that was supposed to last for a “few months” lasted considerably longer. The reader can feel supportive of a character who is trying to heal after the war but the reader also knows that another, deadlier conflict is in the character’s future. I am also reminded, when I am reading these books, that the war did not end when the ceasefire was called. Many families were crushed (and sometimes wiped out) by the losses of life and many of the soldiers who returned were physically or mentally wounded. Most of these soldiers were just boys-yes BOYS when they lost their lives. Each and every death was a tragedy and each and every soldier was a hero.
This was also a time of great transition as motor cars and horses shared the roadways and women were allowed (encouraged) to work outside the home( since all the men were away in France).It was also a time when the strict social class divisions began to blur. I enjoy the British fiction novels-I don’t know why but I find all the manners and politeness, and etiquette reassuring even if it stands in contrast to the HELL that was actually happening or maybe because it is such a contrast. I think I read one novel in this time period, enjoyed it, and just started looking for similar novels. That is why I will be concentrating on novels of this time period in my next several blogs. My entries will include novels by Charles Todd, Jaqueline Winspear, Kate Morton, Louisa Young, and I am sure I will think of others.