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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 22 July 2009
A great read. Diane Atkinson exposes the realities of the sacrifices these two courageous women made to care for the soldiers during WW1. She captures their spirits, their drive and determination. Not only did they make do, they made it happen, right there on the front line. I shared their highs and lows, the fun, the horrors, the glory, romance and the sadness they experienced.
The follow-up, after the war years, rounds off this read. How difficult it must have been to reintegrate into society after having such purpose in life. Turning the last page I felt I had known these women and shared something of their lives. It is a very personal biography. Highly recommended.
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on 24 July 2009
This is a fascinating history of the lives of two extraordinary women who gave so much of themselves in the First World War. I am not a fan of war history, but I heard the author on Radio 4 describing the lives of Elsie and Mairi. The book details their lives up to to the war and beyond. It is full of intricate details about what they did during the war and how they coped afterwards. The author gives great insight into the traumas that Elsie and Mairi witnessed and the friendship that developed during the war and could not be sustained in peacetime. A really good read about real people.
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on 23 July 2009
I read this book in one sitting late into the night. It's a fantastic story of two extraordinary women who defied everything and everybody standing in their way to live their lives to the full. Their selfless courage in the Inferno of the WWI trenches is balanced by their almost camp Britishness resiliance, holding polite tea parties while the bullets whizzed around their heads and punting in a bomb crater as if they were having a day out on the River Cam. It's an absorbing and inspiring story told with gratifying attention to detail, sensitive emotional insight, warmth and humour. Elsie and Marie were inspirational and this book is a really good read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 March 2016
What an incredible story about two remarkable ladies. I've long held an interest in exceptional women, social history and some aspects of WW1. I'm ashamed to say that I only came across this narrative very recently and it's difficult to understand why their names and achievements aren't widely known. These are true heroines; individuals inspired to ignore their personal safety and risk all to help others. They were decorated with seventeen medals, yet who, now, has heard of them?

Dr Diane Atkinson's account is one which brings the people and events truly to life. For years, there's been an accepted narrative about the First World War. It centres on men; the officers plotted from safe positions behind the lines, the ranks did their duty and died. In their millions. But there's a great deal more to the events; new records and insight provide a different and very refreshing perspective. It's the people's voice and Atkinson's research and account is vibrant and accessible to any reader.

Elsie and Mairi went off to the Western Front to do their bit for the war effort. You must read the book to learn what, exactly, they did. Suffice to say that since this edition was published, the people of Ypres have recognised these two remarkable individuals and a bronze statute has been erected in their memory. Shame on Britain for not making their story more widely known. This is a rewarding and astonishing read and I enjoyed every page. Some amazing photos and it's fully indexed.
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on 20 June 2014
This is a well written account, in a modern style, of these two intrepid ladies but seems to spend a lot of time on their romantic exploits rather than on the work they did at the front. If you haven't read about them before I can recommend the book as an introduction to them and the valuable work done by the 'Ladies of Pervyse'
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on 4 March 2010
Two products of a long lost time in British history, these women aroused a feeling of affinity in me when I read that they were a couple of the earlist motorcyclists in the UK and pursued the pastime and sport as enthuiastically as I do now. That is where any similarity ends, for they were extraordinarily courageous pioneers on a monumental scale. That there are not towns and cities named for them, that every school child does not know their names or of their astonishing selflessness, shames us all.

17 medals for gallantry - each. Never enough for two women who were, 'til very recently, amongst us to be feted and held up to this generation as examples of the humble heroics that came so easily to them in the carnage and horror of WW1 slaughter
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on 3 April 2010
My husband went to a lecture expecting it to be on a completely different subject but it was about these two ladies, who previously we had never heard of but he found them interesting and wanted to know more. The following day I saw this book advertised on your website and I ordered it immediately. The book answered a lot a questions that the lecture had raised and not answered but there is still an air of intrigue about them and probably a lot we will never know.
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on 23 June 2014
Certainly a different view of WW1. The first chapters are all about their families which gets a bit boring. I get it that you need a bit of background to understand the story but that part is a bit ott. Once you get passed that the rest of the book is very interesting. They set up a r&r post for the soldiers in a bombed out cellar which gets knocked about at times because they are so near the front. They also take hot chocolate and cocoa to the soldiers and the Germans, French, and Belgians sit drinking together. A good read
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on 28 December 2014
A super book but you need to be very WW1 aware. Friend in involved in supplying Motor Cycle for a commemoration ,which I need to find out more about. Us Brits in those days definitely set the standard. Now?
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on 15 February 2014
As I am very interested in the impact that WW1 and WW2 had upon women, I found this book very interesting. Meeting one another through a mutual interest and a love of motorbikes; Mairi and Elsie travel to the front in WW1, and work tirelessly, and at times risking their own lives to look after and nurse injured soldiers.
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