“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” ~C.S. Lewis
Perusing the library shelves, judging books by their covers; I suspect many of us indulge in this delicious pursuit. But this isn’t always the most reliable method for laying my hands on a book I’ll hardly be able to put down. Still, libraries are one of my favourite places to meander, and it’s always worth a try.
This is exactly how I first discovered this week’s author, Jacqueline Winspear. I was uncommonly lucky that day; I happened to pick up the first book in her well-researched historical mystery series (Maisie Dobbs)! Suffice it to say, I now pounce upon each new instalment with fervent energy and devour it so quickly I only wish it were longer.
This book, however, is her heartrending standalone novel. In this sense, I could almost compare it to Alexander McCall Smith’s La’s Orchestra Saves The World (https://leahsletters.blog/2019/03/02/las-orchestra-saves-the-world/) except that it’s set during the first, rather than the second World War.
“What is certain, is that war will not leave us as it found us.” ~Woman At Home, February 1915
Dorothea and Kezia are old schoolmates, who (not without some bitterness) become sisters-in-law. While one woman focuses on her career in the city and the fight for women’s rights, the other struggles to learn the trade of being a farmer’s wife.
It still takes my breath away to sense the sickening numbers of loved ones who left for the war and never came back. I can’t comprehend what it would be like to carry on, intimately faced with such widespread grief.
I was immediately drawn into the keenly felt nuances of long-standing women’s friendship, complicated by the upheaval of war. I wonder how many of us today can even relate with the brave and selfless urge to persistently write cheerful lies to the battlefront.
This story really made me think. A lot. And wonder.
Ethical questions are served here, and pushed around like overcooked vegetables on a child’s plate…
Women’s issues are at the forefront of social awareness for a lot of us today. Just over 100 years ago, things were very different, or were they?
Of course the historical perspective is compelling and the farm setting enchanting, but the very different ways these two women face down their enemy- war- is what makes this a book not to be missed.
What behind-the-scenes ‘battles’ have you read about?
And I’d love to hear what you think of the questions raised in this conundrum of a novel…
Thank you for reading with me!