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The author starts the book with a poem “They” by Sassoon, from which the title is taken. It is fitting and it makes the reader “hear” the horrors of the 1914-18 Great War even before the story starts.
The story is told from the viewpoint of three characters – Jack, Deirdre and Will and each of them describes the horrors they experience in their own way. Jack and Will are soldiers, while Deirdre is a nurse who works with the wounded soldiers. The switch between characters is clearly marked, with each having their own chapter and with the names written next to the chapter heading, so it was easy to follow which character’s story was being told.
The author describes their lives before the war, how they came to be on the battlefront, and their problems after the war ended. It is a vivid description of the war and its consequences on the individuals who have to deal with the traumas they have experienced even when they return back to their own lives. Will and Deirdre both have their own demons to face and deal with, even though they have their own families now. All of them have lost friends or families probably don’t need this as we know about the war and some seem
s to cope better with situations than the others.
With the coming of peace, the characters try to find their way in life, what to
do next and how to earn a living.
What the author shows the reader is how the war had affected every individual in its own way. It is a very realistic portrayal of the consequences of war, how it engulfed the continent of Europe and beyond, and affected the ordinary lives of so many people in so many different ways.
© Kaja Korent
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