This is one of the best of Dickens’ works, in my opinion.
True, it starts off heavy and bleak, but Mr. Squeers and Dotheboys Hall do play a significant rôle throughout the book. If anything, the digression involving Mr. Crummles and his performing troupe could have been omitted without loss to the story.
This is a very unusual book – both as regards the theme and the style. Two WWI soldiers experience the horrors of war, slaughtering mercilessly and seeing their comrades slaughtered. Each one finds himself alone in the most devastating conditions on a mountainside in the Romanian Carpathians, after all of his respective companions have died – accidentally, by suicide or in the relentless gunfire while attempting to push a cannon up the hillside. Neither of them has any real hope or wish to survive. They are starving, bitterly cold, lost among the snow-covered boulders.
Isa and her young family emigrate from the tiny Orkney island of Raumsey to Alberta, where her parents are already living. An unfortunate young English girl, Sarah, happens to arrive at the same time, destined to marry a friend of her father’s, who is much older than she. The vastness of the prairie environment and the harsh climate prove enormously challenging for the newcomers. Hard work, tight finances and cruel weather strain Isa and Davie’s marriage and he spends months up north working on the paddle steamers.
This book, number 5 in the Raumsey series, not only portrays the horrors of WWII through the eyes of simple, ordinary participants, but sheds a sidelong glance at the morality of a war initiated at some high level, far away from those who are forced to carry it out without understanding why.
This is an amazing book, the first of the Century Trilogy. It is superbly researched and masterly written. We follow the events leading up to WWI through the eyes of several interrelated characters, from America, Great Britain, Germany and Russia. Read more
Flame in the Night by Heather Munn is a captivating drama about the resistance movement in occupied France during WWII. Teenage scouts conceal Jewish children from the Gestapo in remote farms, attics, treetops and caves, while everyday life continues as usual: cultivating vegetables, going to school, shovelling snow, attending church.
An informer, working for the compromising Vichy government, takes up residence in the village. Injured German soldiers from the Eastern front are sent there to recuperate. The pastor and his assistant encourage the faithful to practise nonviolent resistance, and they establish a network of helpers, which enables many Jewish children from Poland or Germany, whose parents have been deported to concentration camps, to go into hiding or to take on new identities and mingle with the locals. However, some lads join the underground armed Maquis. And so the agonising questions of conscience keep surfacing.Read more