One Great War, Three Vastly Different Books

Yes, I am researching the Great War aka the European War or World War I. There’s lots of dry (really boring like I nearly fell asleep on the treadmill boring) books out there on the subject. And yes, I read them while on the treadmill so I stay awake then another chapter or two before bed, so I can fall asleep.

Thankfully not all are boring, but many of them lack the personal details that bring a fictional story to life. For that, I tend to favor diaries. Not just any diaries, women’s diaries. Why women? Because women really wrote for themselves, not with the idea of publishing their diaries as is. Men on the other hand, are highly cognizant of their place in history and so…um, embellish the truth to make themselves appear far more important that they were in the grand scheme of things.

Such a quest lead me to the following books, and I’m not sure if it was the writers personality, where they were stationed or the number of folks they lost that dramatically affected the book. All Volunteered as nurses (nurses aids) and served as VAD. If it matters, the first 2 are English and the last is American.

The Personal Diary of Nurse de Trafford

Unlike the other two ladies, Traffy never planned to be a writer. Instead in her personal diary, she records the number and names of the men in her ward, some of the usual duties and her growth from green/untried aid to what seems to be a career in nursing after the war. Of the three books, she relates conversations and the ribbing between the men as well as the French that crept into the language of the Tommies (British Soldiers) and their use of popular culture. She spends the war safe in England and while there are many losses she experiences, she maintains her spirits and for the most part so do the men.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

I love this book, even though I sometimes found the main character irritating. This is by far the most comprehensive of the three books, giving an overview of how many of the middle-class men and women were in for a shock as to the reality of war. Because this covers the time from the author’s birth to the early 1930s, it broadens it’s focus from just the war years to the feminist and pacifist movements. It is deeply rooted in the writers sequence of losses and sometimes her bitterness and resentfulness seeps across the pages. The heroine starts at a hospital in London, travels to Malta then ends up 20 or so miles behind the front line in France. That said, it will be a long time (if ever) that I’ll forget this book. It’s that good.

The Backwash of War by Ellen N La Motte

Oh boy, this is an in your face why are we bothering to save these soldiers anyway kind of story. Not a concise narrative, this is more a series of vignettes told through a cold and dispassionate nurse. To give you an idea, it starts with a deserter who shoots himself in the head but doesn’t die so the nurses must heal him so he can be executed by firing squad. It also tells in gruesome detail, how freedom isn’t just won on the suffering and blood of soldiers but so too are medical advances. The stories are moving but I was thankful that it was short.

About Linda Andrews

Linda Andrews lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, Arizona. When she announced to her family that her paranormal romance was to be published, her sister pronounce: "What else would she write? She’s never been normal." All kidding aside, writing has become a surprising passion. So just how did a scientist start to write paranormal romances? What other option is there when you’re married to romantic man and live in a haunted house? If you’ve enjoyed her stories or want to share your own paranormal experience feel free to email the author at She’d love to hear from you.
This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s