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In The Shade Of A Willow: A Novel of the Great War

In The Shade Of A Willow: A Novel of the Great War [Kindle Edition]

Chris Todhunter
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

It is the summer of 1914 and the diplomatic situation in Europe is crumbling. Philip Oakley is bemoaning the fact that, as a Naval Volunteer Reservist, he won’t see any
action in the impending war. But Naval Reservists are among the first called up, to be formed into the Royal Naval Division – ‘Winston’s Little Army’.

From the searing heat of Gallipoli and the frozen wastes of the Somme to the hell of Passchendaele, Philip discovers this is not the lark they all thought it was going to be.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1283 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EF7POC8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,313 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Chris Todhunter was born in Cumberland in 1953 but spent his early years in Western Australia. Back home, after university in Durham, he served nine years in the Royal Navy as a seaman officer and hydrographic surveyor. On coming ashore in 1984 he took up and practised maritime law. Thereafter he worked for a global subsea engineering company.

His first book, Maelstrom, was started on a flight to New York - a flight which turned round mid-Atlantic and came home because of 'some problem with US airspace'. The date was 11 September 2001.

The Cyclops Ransom followed in 2012, inspired by the initial difficulty the West experienced in dealing with Somali piracy. As the story tells, the solution seems simple until you look into the network of international laws and conventions; but then, when you need a result (and the novelist always needs a result) there's usually a way round the intricacies of those laws and conventions.

In the Shade of a Willow (published 2013) is a book he had for many years wanted to write. The Great War had always fascinated and at the same time horrified him: how did the volunteers and conscripts at the front (women as well as men), and their families at home, cope with the visceral nature of total war on an industrial scale? And what did seeing the results of it, wrought on the human body standing next to you in the trench, do to the mind? In the Shade of a Willow is his attempt to put himself, through his imagination, in the position of one young man who blithely went off to war for a bit of excitement.

As he feels the characters in that book are still very much alive to him, Chris is working on a sequel to In the Shade of a Willow. This sequel will take the main characters through the Twenties and Thirties, years which carried their own drama and conflicts, ending up with what will seem to them like a re-run of their own experiences - except that they will be watching their own children doing it, and suffering the agony of being at home and not knowing what is happening at the sharp end.

Writing occupies Chris full-time now that he is retired. He lives with his wife in the village of Combs in Suffolk with their Norfolk terrier, Archie. They have a grown-up son who works in Yorkshire in agricultural commodities.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read 28 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I cannot recommend this book more highly. An excellent read which searingly brings home to the reader both the horror and comradeship of the men who fought in WW1 Unlike other books on the land campaigns of that awful war this book follows the activities of the Royal Naval Division, sailors who fought as infantrymen. These sailor/solders fought in most of the major battles of the war from Gallipoli to the Somme. Chris's account of the landing at Gallipoli is harrowing to read. Whilst integrated into the Army system they cling on to their Royal Naval tradition and practises which, at times, their Army hierarchy find very hard to understand. The book is meticulously researched and vividly details the life of the Division. Not just the horrific action but also their daily life at the front. It cleverly weaves the reader into the life of those back home and the changing attitude to the war. Be warned, It is not an easy book to put down once you have started it. This is Chris Todhunter's third book and I cannot wait for his fourth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In this centenary year, if you only read one book about the Great War then it should be ‘In the Shade of a Willow’ by Chris Todhunter.
In 1914 Philip Oakley is a young solicitor living in rural Suffolk. The son of the local Rector, Philip is also a junior officer in the London Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. When war is declared, Philip is mobilised. But the Royal Navy has more than enough men for the Fleet, and Philip fears that his chances of seeing action are slim.
However, Winston Churchill (then First Lord of the Admiralty) has other ideas and combines the surplus manpower with the Marine Brigade to form the Royal Naval Division to fight on land.
The story follows Philips progress as the Division takes part briefly in the defence of Antwerp, before moving on to the Gallipoli campaign. There, Philip gets his first taste of trench warfare. He survives the terrible summer heat, and the dysentery epidemic in the Allied trenches, only to endure the gales, blizzards and flooding as winter sets in. After finally being evacuated from Gallipoli, Philip moves on to the Western Front.
The book describes in graphic detail the horrors of the fighting in the Great War, in particular the barbaric hand to hand fighting using the medieval weapons of bayonet and cosh. In contrast, men die in their thousands without ever seeing the face of the enemy – machine gunned to death on the barbed wire. Heavy artillery inflicts horrific injuries and sudden death until finally, at Passchendaele, the battered landscape becomes a mass of mud and water-filled shell holes where wounded men are left to drown in the rising waters.
Meanwhile, in England life goes on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the shade of the willow tree 28 Oct 2013
By Chelsea
What a great read. Just unputdownable. It has been so well researched. With an unusual storyline of sailors/soldiers in the Great War. I was transported back to that terrible time by this clever author, feeling all the emotion that his characters went through. Why is this book not on the Top Ten Best Seller list? Well done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
with some trepidation- but this is indeed a remarkable book and I highly recommend it! The research is impeccable and as one who has a great interest in WW1 and has read many books on the subject- I did not have an in depth knowledge of the RND- but now am eager to find out more about that remarkable band of sailor/soldiers.
I could not put it down - I was particularly moved by the piece quoted at the end of chapter 4 written by a Captain P.J. Campbell RFA - it was very poignant and summed up the tragic losses of the war to end all wars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Leeon
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a triumph - Chris takes you on a well researched journey with the Royal Naval Division during WW1 and succeeds in painting a fascinating picture of the conflict from the trenches to the home front. His writing is gloriously sensitive to societal mores of the time around which he weaves a most emotional story. A great read - I have read all three of his books; Maelstrom and Cyclops Ransom are also most enjoyable, but this is his best so far - bring on the next!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw WW 1 13 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Captures the atmosphere of the Great War and the class system of the period very well as reflected in other works of the period.

I found the book realistic to the point of being depressing, the futility of it all, lives wasted and the stupidity and callousness of those in charge.

It's not a light read to pass some spare time but it is in its own way compelling
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It has everything, except too much gory description of injuries, with an insight into family life and the effects of the war on those families. The characters become so real and it would make a fantastic film or TV series, in the same vein as 'The Crimson Field' recently aired, in this centenary year of WW1. Chris Todhunter has brought the fact that the Navy played a vital part in land battles of which we hear so much. It is a book about the Great War that will open your eyes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the very best story's to come out of the Great War
Published 15 days ago by D Brett
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully written book and a compelling story
A wonderfully written book and a compelling story. Not for the faint of heart, but for those who enjoy being enlightened.
Published 16 days ago by NSJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent read, loved it, has everything from the heights of happiness to the lows of sadness, once again it also shows what asses some of the officers could be. Highly recommend
Published 1 month ago by Bob Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
i really loved the story as it focused on the civilian and military tender yet realistic
Published 1 month ago by William H. Waugh
5.0 out of 5 stars A good solid novel about the First World War with a ...
A good solid novel about the First World War with a storyline based around the Royal Naval Reserve who spent the war fighting as infantry - it does have a bit of everything you'd... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Michael Foster
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A very good read, captured the mood and feel of the time, WW1. A lot of research must have gone into this novel based on the experiences of a young officer in the Naval Regiment. Read more
Published 6 months ago by ceebeedee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, eventually
I must admit that, unlike others who have reviewed this book, I found it for some reason a bit hard going at first. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bob Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulls no punches
Solid and harrowing tale of WW1 from a slightly different angle, the naval reserves. Worth a read to remember the sacrifices made in all theatres of Ww1
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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