A ROSE for the ANZAC BOYS by Jackie French
GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION
INTEREST LEVEL: YRS 9 AND UP
A beautifully crafted story, with strong characters who quickly grab the readers’ interest. Whilst French’s central aim (to tell the story of WW1 through women’s eyes) is stated boldly on the front cover – she manages to tell a story first and let the social message take care of itself. Although we do experience WW1 largely through the eyes of Midge, a young New Zealander, in her role as canteen operator, ambulance driver and nursing aid close to the front, this novel isn’t just about the role of women in war. Inevitably, the horror of trench warfare, the brutality of life for soldiers on the front line are all too vividly portrayed. French cleverly uses series of letters to convey not only the perspective of soldiers but also those who are back at home. The letters also help to place the time and events of the main story. We see the inevitable change in the main characters as war changes from the illusory world of heroism that young men and women are keen to involve themselves in (and that will soon be over) to the bitter and ugly reality of death and loss. The story is truly moving and clearly intended for older readers (the frankness of war’s horrors would be hard for young readers to bear). French’s research is exemplary and the additional notes at the end of the novel are informative. The story will stay with the reader long after the novel is finished.
Highly Recommended (dma) *****