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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read!
Another cracking read from Annie Wilkinson, and one that should be obligatory for all frontline hospital workers to see what went into keeping down ward and wound infections before the discovery of antibiotics. The descriptions of young Sally Wilde coping with seriously wounded, and traumatised, soldiers returning from the trenches was wonderfully counterbalanced by the...
Published on 22 Oct 2007 by Linda Acaster

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very hard going
This was the first Annie Wilkinson book that I'd read and I couldn't promise to read any more. I found it very hard going. If you wanted to know about gangrene and WW1 wounds then maybe it would hold your attention more, but with a story line of a young working class girl in the hospital, tending a wounded soldier she didn't initially recognise and then found she couldn't...
Published on 10 Feb 2008 by Mrs. Sharon Roberts


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read!, 22 Oct 2007
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This review is from: For King and Country (Paperback)
Another cracking read from Annie Wilkinson, and one that should be obligatory for all frontline hospital workers to see what went into keeping down ward and wound infections before the discovery of antibiotics. The descriptions of young Sally Wilde coping with seriously wounded, and traumatised, soldiers returning from the trenches was wonderfully counterbalanced by the camaraderie of the nurses, as deceit and inequities manifest in society at the close of WW1 are explored. I've found the historical detail in all her novels deftly integrated, and this one has the sort of page-turning grip that makes me realise why I read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book of great integrity, 8 Dec 2009
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This review is from: For King and Country (Paperback)
If you are strict enough with yourself to follow the injunction `never judge a book by its cover', here in a positive way is where you might consider aiming yourself next.

The cover of `For King And Country' is intended to suggest a standard romantic historical fiction by one of Mills & Boon's more adept cousins.

Well, it isn't.

Firstly, Annie Wilkinson's writing style is delightful - not striking, but like lowering yourself into a welcoming warm soapy bath on a mouldy Autumn day, enticing you to settle back and relax. As the man said, if she were to re-write the telephone directory, I might well be tempted to read it.

Secondly, for most of the book the central character, Sally, has no interest in love whatsoever. She unintentionally attracts her suitors (or predators), but she is not looking for owt from them other than that they should go away and leave her in peace. She is an ordinary working class girl from the mining village of Annsdale Colliery (outside Newcastle) trying to earn her living loyally as a nurse by doing an irreproachable job, constantly fearful of stirring up trouble for herself which, God knows, was easy enough to come by in them days. She is depicted, in short, as an out-and-out good-hearted unsophisticate, an unexceptional wallflower who may have a bit of some'at about her but who is determined to keep it well hidden if she even suspects consciously that it exists at all. Annie Wilkinson excels at the characterisation of even the most minor of her characters - you can picture each one of them instantly without their being stereotypes - but it is noticeable that she leaves her main character as something of a blur, presumably because she really doesn't have much of a character she is willing to live out until late into the plot.

The front cover bellows "The man she loves is the man she must betray". Well, it is not so obvious that she loves him and whether or not she betrays him was always her choice although Annie is assiduous in delineating the social pressures on people to think a certain conventional way and to bow to certain publicly reiterated threats.

The other drop-your-jaw-to-the-floor claim from the cover is a Reading Evening Post reviewer's declaration that "Bodice rippers don't come more fiery than this". The only ripping I heard was that of hospital bandages and I didn't hear tell of any bodices either, although one may have slipped down a woman's body unannounced (if not unnoticed) towards the end of the final chapter. I don't know what that particular reviewer was imbibing down the Purple Turtle but it was certainly mind-altering and even more certainly confounding (although Simon & Schuster appear to have been happy enough to quote it).

While no bodices are ever ripped, there is a bit of fire involved to be sure, although I would describe them as embers more than flames. The book stresses throughout that the First World War represented the continuation of the class war by others means whereby the lower orders were murderously exploited by the financiers and politicians to their own invidious ends much as they were at any other time. You see the hierarchy in the hospital, you see the hierarchy in the trenches. You see the English political classes shamelessly destroying the reputation and lives of working class folk wherever they are.

I don't envy Annie Wilkinson her task in this book. It is virtually impossible to write about the experience of the Great War in an unexpected way. We all know what happened. We all know that its events defy sane contemplation. There is not much new to report. In fact, the only shocking revelation I have heard in years appears in a short story written by Andy Wilson around Joe Solo's song `White Feather' where he alleges that conscientious objectors were arrested, conscripted and sent secretly to France where they received the final ultimatum either to fight for their country or to be executed by it.

Having said that, Annie weaves in continuing broad strands of painstakingly researched detail about the working life in a hospital in those times and how they treated the different ailments and injuries they came across. Personally, I was surprised by how much they understood about microbial infection and indeed by how sophisticated medicine was in general.

The one thing that confuses me in this deliberately unromanticised historical novel is just that, that Annie didn't establish a compelling romantic dynamic from the start which she could easily have done. All books have lulls, and somewhere into the late middle section I was beginning to think "OK, so it's all about whether she will fall for X or for Y, and who gives a damn because she doesn't appear to?". I think I would have preferred to be sitting there screaming "Don't do it, girl. No, no, no you mustn't. He's a wrong `un, he's a wrong `un I tell you." As the advice goes, the more authors make their central characters suffer, the more we the readers like it. I can only assume that the reason she declined this approach was out of resolute integrity. Throughout she goes to significant lengths to avoid using cheap melodramatic tricks, those same tricks that her publishers are going to the same lengths to promote on the cover.

What I should have realised 250 pages in was that Annie, like the First World War generals themselves, was stockpiling arms and ammunition ready for the final assault which suddenly introduces a series of much more threatening and exciting developments.

Is this book worth reading? Well, it depends who you are, but if you are a general reader (rather than one truffle-hunting for the latest Anthony Trollope or Thomas Pynchon) I would say definitely. Will I read another Annie Wilkinson book (there are three predecessors)? Yes, I certainly shall.

Any final advice? Yes, don't file it under historical romantic fiction because that it ain't. It is superior to that. Whether that fact pleases you or not is up to you.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very hard going, 10 Feb 2008
By 
Mrs. Sharon Roberts (wirral, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: For King and Country (Paperback)
This was the first Annie Wilkinson book that I'd read and I couldn't promise to read any more. I found it very hard going. If you wanted to know about gangrene and WW1 wounds then maybe it would hold your attention more, but with a story line of a young working class girl in the hospital, tending a wounded soldier she didn't initially recognise and then found she couldn't betray was, I found drawn-out. By half way I felt that the storyline had more or less enfolded and the rest just padded it out to fill the pages. A comment published on the back cover refering to it as a "bodice ripper" made me laugh. If there were two chaste kisses in it that's all. At least I managed to finish it, my friend read a third and past it on to me. Sorry Annie, you got one star for a poor effort. Try better next time.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A hard read and not worth keeping, 30 Sep 2012
By 
M. E. Newell (Georgia, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: For King and Country (Paperback)
The First World War is coming to a close and Sally Wilde has lost the sweetheart that she love. When an Australian officer Lt. Kit Maxfield come her ward in the hospital,Sally finds herself drawn to her. And she realizes who "Kit Maxfield" really is, Sally will find herself pulled into danger.
It me say that I really wanted to like "For King and Country" by Annie Wilkinson but I couldn't and I really had to push myself to get through the book. I thought that Ms. Wilkinson seem to draw out the story with about 500 pages. Overall "For King and Country" was not a good read and not a book that I will be keeping.
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For King and Country by Annie Wilkinson
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