In Love And War by Liz Trenow is a powerful novel showing the futility of war. It was reminiscent of the film Oh What A Lovely War in that I was reminded of the utter waste of young lives on both sides.
The novel is set six months after the end of the First World War during a Thomas Cook pilgrimage to the battlefields of Belgium. Everywhere there is desolation as communities try to rebuild their lives.
At the centre is a core group… an English woman looking for her husband, an American lady looking for her brother and a German mother and son looking for her older son. They are united in grief and the devastation that loss causes. They cling on to the hope that their loved ones will be found… whilst there are no graves there is always hope as many soldiers were still wandering, lost in their minds as shell shock took over.
The suffering of war knows no boundaries. It matters little which side you fought on when your heart is breaking. Loss binds the spirit of humanity together.
There were some powerful scenes set in the war cemeteries. Particularly horrific was the job of digging up remains to give a burial with dignity.
There will always be survivor’s guilt. “Feeling guilty for being alive in a place where people had suffered such misery.” Life has to go on or the sacrifices of yesterday will have been in vain.
Much bitterness existed towards the German nation following the end of WWI. Germany was defeated and suffering under the terms of the Treaty Of Versailles but still the people were regarded with suspicion and hate. People forgot that those left behind had lost loved ones too in the cannon fodder that was WWI. No one wins in wars. Mothers lost sons on both sides. Families were torn apart. Lives devastated by the war to end all wars but it didn’t.
Liz Trenow has produced a marvellous tale that really highlights the devastation for families on both sides. There is a powerful quote that really says it all:
“In your hands you held our hopes, our dreams and our future.”
May we never forget those who gave their yesterday so we could live today.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.