Friday, 8 May 2015

Review - The Ways of Mud and Bone by Carrie Ann Lahain

I loved the title and was intrigued by the subject matter: An American point of view on the struggle of the allies during the Great War. Lahain paints a picture of an American community divided by politics, neighbour set against neighbour, with violence never far beneath the surface. Add to this the outbreak of influenza which strikes without discrimination, and you have a small town in meltdown.

France seems almost like an adventure to Meryl, her sister and her friends. She is inspired by a desire to care for the casualties of war and sets off for the front to do what she can. Needless to say, the reality of battle is a shock to the volunteers, even though they believe themselves to be ready for such a challenge. Meryl struggles with the consequences of a world turned upside down, which will never be the same again. She is sensitive and intelligent, unsentimental and pragmatic. Relationships in this novel are subtle, understated. We have to read between the lines, sense the meaning of simple gestures. But against the horrific backdrop of chaos and death, in action scenes that are all too realistic, there is still room for hope.

I read a little everyday, often sneaking off to find out what happened next, wanting a sliver more to mull over. I held the dwindling pages (I bought the book, but I see it is available on Kindle too), and wished that Meryl’s story could continue. Highly recommended – a literary gem.

I see that the Kindle version is only 99p for the next few days.  Not to be missed, I say!

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