Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A rose for the Anzac boys, by Jackie French

It is 1915 and war is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from 16-year-old New Zealander Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. Midge is not unaffected, though - her two brothers are in the army and one of them, her twin, Tim, is listed as 'missing' in the devastating defeat of the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli. Desperate to do their bit - and avoid the boredom of school and society's restrictions -Midge and her school friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from battle. Midge, recruited by the over-stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls - and their ANZAC boys as well - discover that even going 'home' can be both strange and wonderful. (from the publisher's notes).
Concentrating on the war to end all wars - which as we know proved to be anything but - and linking to the present, this story is so moving I had to grab the tissues on several occasions. Jackie French's characters ring true and so do their voices - it is obvious that French, that consummate author, has delved deeply into diaries, letters and the history of the day so there is never a false note. The book is recommended for age 12 onwards but adults will also find it an absorbing read, as I did.
Rating - I give this 5/5 GREAT!!
Get this from the library

Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

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