I am currently writing a WWI novel, because it has bothered me for years how little quality fiction is out there set during WWI. In my quest for knowledge of the era – politically, socially, and so forth – I’ve been binge-reading whatever I can get my hands on that covers that time in history. Rather than bombard you with a Gigantically Comprehensive List All At Once, I will take this project in installments and talk about a few at a time. Let’s do four today!
Note on my star rating system:
5 stars=Amazing, have read more than once or definitely will read again, highly recommend.
4 stars=Excellent, may not ever re-read but the quality was superb and highly recommend.
3 stars=Good, a solid read.
2 stars= Just okay, not that impressed, but also not horrible, and probably I will forget all about it soon.
1 star=The only reason I finished reading this was so I could rant/snark/complain about it 100% fairly
This one kind of goes without saying. It’s just about the only serious, well-known literary work out there that deals with WWI – or, at least, it’s the only one I had ever heard of before actively searching out others. I was super moved and impressed by it as a teenager (or early 20s, I honestly don’t remember when I first read it). The translation by Wheen is my preferred one.
I had really known nothing about the Lusitania or its sinking’s impact on the world, aside from a vague “it happened and the US got mad or something”. Really engaging. I love Larson’s writing, and Scott Brick (the narrator of the audiobook) is a favourite reader of mine. There is a lot fascinating insight into U-Boats and what it was like to be on them. (I would not want to be on a U-Boat.)
(Linda Granfield, illustrated by Janet Wilson) ★★★★
This was a beautifully illustrated version of the iconic poem, with historical information about the man who wrote the poem and the war itself. I got this one from my library, but one of these days I want to buy a copy for myself.
This is full of fantastic, practical-life information about life in the trenches. Among other things, it answers such questions as: How long did it take to get mail? (The mail system was very efficient.) What kinds of food did the men get? (Tinned beef and plum-apple jam and super hard biscuit were staples.) Did anyone ever wake up with rats sitting on them? (Yes.) The many pictures are not very well-reproduced, a bit like bad photocopies at times, but fun to look at all the same, and invaluable to my research for my own novel.
Eva was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She left that humidity pit at the age of three and spent the next twenty-one years in California, Idaho, Kentucky, and Washington before ending up in Oregon, where she now lives on a homestead in the western foothills with her husband and five children, two of whom are human.