Absolutely Brilliant And Heartbreaking
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo is a powerful and heartbreaking historical children’s novel. I happened upon it as my ten year old granddaughter was studying it at school. It appealed to both the historian and the fiction-lover in me.
Michael Morpurgo is a masterful story-teller. He writes Private Peaceful in the first person with the result that the story feels very personal to the reader. As we read, we are on a countdown through the night with the memories of seventeen year old Tommo.
We witness the desire to know that heaven exists. “I want to believe there’s a heaven… that death is not a full stop, and that we will all see one another again.” Surrounded by death on the battlefield, this is a hope to hold on to.
The Belgium Front was a wasteland where even God seemed absent. “He [God] has long since abandoned this place and all of us who live in it.” The faith of men was shaken. “I could no longer pretend to myself that I believed in a merciful god… I could believe only in the hell I was living in… it was man-made, not God-made.”
The Hun were portrayed as evil but as Tommo got a glimpse of them, he realized “They [the enemy] seemed like us.”
The mud and the mire, the gunfire and the gas – all come to life under the masterful pen of Michael Morpurgo. He has vividly portrayed the horrors of war.
In contrast there is the early life of Tommo in the Devon countryside – here he is poor but loved by his family making him rich beyond measure.
Private Peaceful is a heartbreaking read. There is no glory in war, only losses – Families, wives, mothers on both sides lose husbands and sons. No one ever really wins.
Michael Morpurgo has produced a first-class novel that is powerful and heart breaking no matter how old you are.