This week on The Book Binder’s Daughter, I am commemorating the centenary of World War I through a series of reviews of historical fiction set during The Great War. There are a lot of fantastic books coming out this year that bring to the life the hardships, tragedies and sacrifices that many nations suffered during the war. I have chosen 3 of these books to review this week: Fallen by Lia Mills, The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan and This is How I’d Love You by Hazel Woods.
For more information on the history of this war and commemorative events visit:
First up is the novel Fallen by Lia Mills. This World War I historical fiction takes place in Dublin and centers around the Crilly family whose oldest son Liam has volunteered to join the army and fight in the war. The member of his family who is most devastated by his decision to go to the front is his twin sister Katie.
The perspective of this book is unique as it centers around Dublin and the Irish views of the war. At the time, the Irish were trying to gain independence as a republic, so many men like Liam joined the army in an attempt to prove that Ireland was worthy of its own seat at the peace talks at the end of the war. This novel served to remind me of the scope of the war and just how many countries were involved in the fighting.
While the Irish army is heavily involved in the war, its citizens are also dealing with the Easter Rebellion in which Irish Republicans stage an armed rebellion in the streets of Dublin to end British rule. The characters in the book learn all too well the horrors of war as fighting, looting and blood shed are brought to their very streets.
Lia Mills brings to life the suffering that the soldiers face in the aftermath of war through the character of Hubie, a wounded veteran. As Katie Crilly is trying to decide what to do with her life in the year after her twin brother goes to war, she is introduced to Hubie. They seem to find comfort in each other’s suffering and he repeatedly asks her what she wants in her life now that she is no longer defined by her brother.
I love it when a novel has a clever title whose meaning and significance are revealed throughout the story. Katie and her family read the papers everyday and see lists of soldiers who have “fallen” in battle. The euphemism for death disturbs her and she feels that it is too light a word to use for what has happened to her brother and other men like him. Throughout the novel “fallen” also comes to have a very different meaning for Katie.
My litmus test for a successful historical fiction is that it makes me want to further research the time period. As I was reading Fallen, I kept looking at World War I websites for photos, stories and descriptions of this time period. So according to my test, Fallen is a resounding success.
What World War I books, fiction or non-fiction, have you read? Let me know in the comments!