Vivid account, equally suitable for boys and girls,
This review is from: Dear Jelly: Family Letters from the First World War (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This short but surprisingly powerful book is based on the surviving letters of two brothers serving in the First World War to their teenaged sisters at home. They are set in context by family history and a short introduction to each year's correspondence outlining the main events on the front line. Gradually, a vivid picture of the fear, boredom and squalor of fighting conditions is built up - and if this is the officers' lot, one can only shudder at what the ordinary Tommies had to go through.
Poignancy is added by the subtle change in the tone of the letters as the war drags on and changes people. Early notes are light-hearted and livened by vivid and amusing illustrations, but gradually the sheer exhaustion creeps through the lines, colouring everything said with all that is unsaid. Censorship, and a gentlemanly desire not to unduly stress or worry beloved female relatives, prevents too direct an account of the war's hardships, or undue moral reflection on the morality of klling "the Hun." But, while nothing overtly distressing features, children of secondary school age will be able to appreciate how tough and unpleasant life must have been for the soldiers at the time.
The last few pages of the narrative pack a real emotional punch. It is helpful for young readers to be reminded that the "Spanish Flu" that followed the war, decimating an already exhausted population, was as devastating as the better-known battle casualties. This is a worthwhile little book; it will appeal to both boys and girls aged around 8 and upwards, particularly those who enjoy the fictionalised historical narratives of the "My Story" series. It is important for young readers to understand that this actually happened, and was not untypical for the time.
Highly recommended, particularly as preparation for visits to war cemeteries and similar memorial sites.