I’m so pleased to be able to share my review for this truly fantastic book! It’s utterly stunning and if you are a fan of historical fiction you need to read! I gave it 5 stars but would have given it more if I could!
In Love And War is available to buy in ebook and paperback here.
Three women, once enemies. Their secrets will unite them.
July, 1919. The First World War is over. The war-torn area of Flanders near Ypres is no longer home to trenches or troops, but groups of tourists. Controversial battlefield tourism now drives busloads of people to witness first-hand where loved ones fell.
At the Hotel de la Paix in the small village of Poperinghe, three women have come to the battlefields to find a trace of men they have loved and lost. Ruby is just twenty-one, a shy Englishwoman looking for the grave of her husband. Alice is only a little older but brimming with confidence; she has travelled all the way from America, convinced her brother is in fact still alive and in France. Then there’s Martha, and her son Otto, who are not all they seem to be . . .
The three women in Liz Trenow’s In Love and War may have very different backgrounds, but they are united in their search for reconciliation: to resolve themselves to what the war took from them, but also to what life might still promise for the future . . .
I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, especially those that teaches me something new. I wasn’t aware that there used to be tours of the ww1 battlefields that grieving relatives could undertake to try and find their loved ones graves. This must have been a very emotional and daunting task as the area had still not recovered with evidence of what had happened still visible. The author paints a vivid picture of the differences between the normal, beautiful French countryside and the war torn one. It is quite poignant to realise how different and altered it is and what must have happened to make it so.
It was fascinating to learn a little more about the other side and how German citizens had fare both during and after the war. It was quite startling to be reminded that they had, of course, lost family members the same way that the allied forces had and were grieving too. My favourite character was Martha who I felt so sorry for in light of the awful treatment she receives from people when she’s just trying to find her son. It must have been very hard to visit such places in the face of so much hatred.
I also thought it sad to learn that some soldiers stayed or returned to France rather than face an altered reality with little prospects and without friends or family. Those returning did so as they wanted to revisit places where they were last happy and because they missed the friendships they had. It’s incredible to learn that they were willing to stay in a place where so many had died and such horrors had been witnessed. It paints a bleak picture of what was waiting for them at home!
The story is told from the point of view of three main characters Ruby, Alice and Martha all of whom are in France to find out what happened to their loved ones. The pace of the book isn’t overly fast but the reader is never bored as there is always something happening or being discovered. I liked that all the discoverys were done in real time and that there weren’t any weird coincidences, it made the story feel very real. The author’s descriptions of war torn France were very vivid and really allowed me to see the village and battle fields in my mind’s eye. Sometimes I felt that I was right there alongside the characters watching everything unfold.
This is the third book by Liz Trenow I have read and I definitely look forward to reading more from her in the future as she is one of my favourite authors. I though this was absolutely brilliant historical fiction that I will be recommending to everyone. Even if you don’t normally read this genre, try it as it’s a fabulous story.
Huge thanks to Alice May Dewing from Pan Macmillan for my of this book.
About the Author
Liz Trenow’s latest novel, In Love and War was published on 25th January 2018 by Pan Books. Her previous novels are The Last Telegram, The Forgotten Seamstress, The Poppy Factory and The Silk Weaver. She has been published all over the world and in eight foreign languages. The Last Telegram was shortlisted for a UK national award and The Forgotten Seamstress was a New York Times best-seller.
In Love and War marks the anniversary of the end of World War One with a story about the thousand of bereaved families who within months of the Armistice made the difficult journey to the devastated battlefields of the Flanders and The Somme in search of their loved ones who were ‘missing, presumed dead’. The book is told from the perspectives of three women who undertook this pilgrimage, each of them from different countries and backgrounds All three bear their own burdens of sorrow and guilt, and their searches seem almost impossibly daunting. While initially regarding each other with suspicion what they eventually discover, together, is greater than any of them could have imagined.
Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters.
Please go to http://www.liztrenow.com, follow her on Facebook or join her on Twitter @liztrenow