Liz Trenow comes to the blog with her story of the after-effects of war, separated by nearly a century in
All The Things We Lost
From the title I was thinking this would highlight the ultimate futility of war – the losses of innocence, lives, hope, humanity and even historic treasures, but the title went deeper here – it was a loss of purpose and, in some ways, connection to one’s humanity and purpose that is highlighted. Jess is a Suffolk girl, born and bred, but with the loss of her first crush, and her brother’s best friend in Iraq, she’d dedicated herself to making a difference in lives – so that none would ever die because of uncontrolled bleeding. She did all the schooling and work, and signed on as an army medic – heading for a single tour in Afghanistan. She returns in 2004 to civilian life, with all of the hallmarks of PTSD: nightmares, flash-trigger temper, flashbacks, hopelessness, self-medicating with alcohol – you name it, she’s in it. And when things spectacularly collapse she returns home, determined to find a new path in life.
World War I, journals from Jess’ great grandmother have been handed to her by her mother. At armistice day in 1980, Rose had two young children, was working in a munitions factory, had lost both brothers to the war and was awaiting the return of her husband Alfie, from the front. From the introduction of the journals, the story becomes told in two voices as Alfie and Jess are, not surprisingly, similar in their ‘before’ and ‘after’ behaviors from their time in combat.
Trenow managed to create a compelling character in Rose as she outlines her life and the changes thereto – before and after the war, and her wonder about what all Alfie had seen, how she could help – you name it. While not officially diagnosed at that time, Alfie’s PTSD was all the more tragic for the lack of understanding and public knowledge of the aftereffects, and just how much of the person who went had lost. Unfortunately, for the most part I found Jess to be brittle and quite stubborn in her refusal to acknowledge any of the help or people who are trying to get her help. It’s common – perhaps far too, and this book could serve as a push for help for the vets who so desperately need it. But, the story also had hopeful moments and chances, and the sight of a rainbow at the end of a very difficult path. I’m not sure that the recognition or realization of the futility and losses that are brought on by warfare will ever become a foremost thought in those who seek to send others into battle, but perhaps what is needed is more titles that show the struggles, challenges and life after.
Title: All the Things We Lost
Author: Liz Trenow
Genre: British, Dual Timeline, Family Saga, Historic Woman's Fiction
Published by: Bookouture
Published on: 10 January, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble
From the New York Times bestselling author comes the story of two women, two wars, and a secret diary full of heartbreak, despair—and hope. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife, The Nightingale and Pam Jenoff.
Once upon a time I would have trusted him with my life, but the Alfie I fell in love with seems to have disappeared, and I’m afraid I’ll never find him again.
1918 As victory bells sound across London, Rose Barker waits for her darling husband Alfie to come home. But, injured by a shell in the final days of the war, Alfie struggles with terrifying nightmares, and the more Rose tries to help him the further he sinks.
2014 Years later, Rose’s great-granddaughter Jess returns from Afghanistan, where she served as a front-line medic. Constantly reminded of those she could not save, Jess’s relationship is crumbling, and her life is falling apart.
But just as Jess is at her lowest, she receives an unexpected gift: the diaries of her great-grandmother Rose. And as she turns the pages, Jess discovers a story of enduring love—and hope—which will change her life forever.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: