Feedback from our first meeting of this session

Today we were talking about books in the time of or about WWI.  In addition we looked at the photos of the memorial poppies at the Tower of London, listened to Christmas in the Trenches, enjoyed fresh baked bagels from Serendipity and saw some items from WWI that Mary had from her father who was in the war.

Books recommended:

A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot – fiction set in France during WWI – recommended as a classic of the war.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louise Young – published in 2012 this novel follows two couples – an officer and his aristocratic wife and a young soldier and his childhood sweetheart.  Deals with the results of war injuries.  She picked this one up from the display that Jeremy created – be sure to check out his new display for holiday titles for December.

Anne Perry is best known for her Victorian mysteries but she has a series of books about WWI – No Graves as yet, Shoulder the Sky Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall not Sleep.  These books were the favorites of Lynette who also recommended the ones above.

Also from Lynette are 3 mysteries by Robert Olen Butler – The Empire of Night (set in Mexico), The Star of Istanbul (her favorite in this series) and The Hot Country (set in Germany and the UK)

The War Poets edited by Robert Giddings and shared by Mary. Not only are there many complete poems included in the anthology but reproduction of paintings, photographs, excerpts from letters, etc. provides a meaningful context for the poetry, which is the focus of this anthology. Comment made that WWI seemed to be the poets war with poets like Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, and Siegfried Sassoon coming out of it.

Regeneration by Pat Barker – First in the trilogy which includes The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road – a Booker prizewinner.  Regeneration deals with Siegfried Sasson poet and decorated war hero who publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer and was sent to a mental hospital where he was treated by Dr. William Rivers who was charged with restoring his sanity and sending him back to the trenches. A war book without any shooting but a fascinating look at the effects of war.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque – first novel by the author who was born in Germany and drafted into the German army during WWI.  Opinion was that the movie – while good – was not as good as the book.

The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost (also a film) – recommended by Karen who said you will enjoy it more if you are a golfer – it is set during WWI and has a lot of interesting information about what was happening in the golf world during that time.  Billed as the birth of modern golf it is about Francis Ouimet, an amateur golfer who won the U.S. Open. Non-fiction

Also recommended by Karen – A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (also filmed) – which most people enjoyed more than The Sun Also Rises. Story of an American serving as an ambulance driver for the Italians in WWI –

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes – Set in occupied France during WWI it is the story of a woman whose painter husband has enlisted, leaving her to run the restaurant in town.  When the Germans occupy the town she is required to feed them, creating problems with her neighbors and with the Commandant who is overly fond of her and of a portrait her husband painted of her.  The story picks up in present day time when the portrait, now owned by a young widow, is claimed by the descendants of the painter who charge that it was stolen by the Germans.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – only part of this book is set during WWI – it continues through WWII but she is such a good writer I wanted to mention it anyway. The story of how random choices can totally change a life.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks – Both a love story and the story of a young Englishmen who joins the army and is put in charge of a group of miners who job is to tunnel beneath German lines and set off bombs under the enemy trenches.  Very realistic descriptions of the trench warfare but beautifully written.

The SleepWalkers by Christopher Clark – a very well researched and detailed look at the causes of WWI – ending with the conclusion that there was no one cause and that every nation involved had an element of guilt.  Non-fiction.

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