I am currently writing a WWI novel, because it has bothered me for years how little quality fiction is out there set during WWI. In my quest for knowledge of the era – politically, socially, and so forth – I’ve been binge-reading whatever I can get my hands on that covers that time in history. Rather than bombard you with a Gigantically Comprehensive List All At Once, I will take this project in installments and talk about a few at a time. Let’s do four today!
Note on my star rating system:
5 stars=Amazing, have read more than once or definitely will read again, highly recommend.
4 stars=Excellent, may not ever re-read but the quality was superb and highly recommend.
3 stars=Good, a solid read.
2 stars= Just okay, not that impressed, but also not horrible, and probably I will forget all about it soon.
1 star=The only reason I finished reading this was so I could rant/snark/complain about it 100% fairly
This one kind of goes without saying. It’s just about the only serious, well-known literary work out there that deals with WWI – or, at least, it’s the only one I had ever heard of before actively searching out others. I was super moved and impressed by it as a teenager (or early 20s, I honestly don’t remember when I first read it). The translation by Wheen is my preferred one.
I had really known nothing about the Lusitania or its sinking’s impact on the world, aside from a vague “it happened and the US got mad or something”. Really engaging. I love Larson’s writing, and Scott Brick (the narrator of the audiobook) is a favourite reader of mine. There is a lot fascinating insight into U-Boats and what it was like to be on them. (I would not want to be on a U-Boat.)
(Linda Granfield, illustrated by Janet Wilson) ★★★★
This was a beautifully illustrated version of the iconic poem, with historical information about the man who wrote the poem and the war itself. I got this one from my library, but one of these days I want to buy a copy for myself.
This is full of fantastic, practical-life information about life in the trenches. Among other things, it answers such questions as: How long did it take to get mail? (The mail system was very efficient.) What kinds of food did the men get? (Tinned beef and plum-apple jam and super hard biscuit were staples.) Did anyone ever wake up with rats sitting on them? (Yes.) The many pictures are not very well-reproduced, a bit like bad photocopies at times, but fun to look at all the same, and invaluable to my research for my own novel.