"The Stars in the Night is not just a story of the Great War, but a story of what war does to those who participated in it. "
WWI / 1970
Europe / Australia
"Harry Fletcher is a confident young man. Harry’s sure that he will marry Nora MacTiernan, no matter what their families say. He’s certain that he will always be there to protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide. Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans… From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience."
The author created this story from her research into Australian WWI literature and the stories of her grandparents’ emigration from Europe to Port Adelaide in 1914. Having grown up in South Australia, the state where the book is set, I was drawn to read this novel.
Harry’s story starts in November 1970, with Harry and his granddaughter Kate sorting through her deceased grandmother’s books, postcards, letters and photos. Kate finds the book that Eddie, her grandfather’s foster brother, had been writing but there is some of it missing and we are sent back in time to 1917, to the days following Eddie’s disappearance on the field of battle.
The Stars in the Night follows Harry, Eddie and their commanding officer, Alex, as they suffer the agonies of the war in Passchendaele, and then the Middle East and France. The author gives us a snapshot of their lives growing up in the town of Port Adelaide. In one instance we get a brief glimpse of how class distinction had not had much bearing on the people of Australia until Alex, newly arrived in France as a commissioned officer, meets his corporal, Harry. The war changed everything and made people.
With glimpses of letters and the diary that Eddie was keeping, we can visualise what these men must have experienced. This is not a book that gives you a wide panorama of the First World War but focusses more on the story of Harry Fletcher and his companions. It is written sensitively with some wonderful prose, although it was, at times, somewhat exasperating that the author would slip into different viewpoints just when you were getting familiar with one. Nonetheless, the writing retained its gentleness and emotional descriptions. The Stars in the Night is not just a story of the Great War, but a story of what war does to those who participated in it.
The author has done an excellent job with this book; it is a beautiful testimony and legacy to leave to future generations.
© Paula Wilcox
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