Today my husband left for a week out in the field... boo... I'm not going to complain about me missing him, although I will... but I will say that I am going to be one bored gal while he's gone. Even just a couple of hours after I dropped him off, I had already finished a novel and watched two movies... Oh my.
The novel that I finished is what I really want to talk about.
I picked up this book at a "Going out of Business" sale at Borders because, well... I was on a buying frenzy. The novel is based during World War I and is from the British perspective. The book follows two couples through their experience with the war. One couple that was perceived as "perfect" before the war and soon finds their marital bond breaking with the pressures of war. And another couple which includes a higher class aspiring female artist and a "poor" boy whose love is forbidden. As the war changes each of the characters inside and out, it metamorphoses the dynamics of their relationships. It was an intense novel with more imagery than I knew what to do with. The horrible aspects of the war were exposed from marital issues to war wounds and I soon had very graphic and horrific images fleeting through my mind while reading the novel.
I often found myself lost though as I read through the book. The book is based off a British perspective in the 20th Century, therefore British, 20th Century lingo was used often. As the book hops back and forth between the perspectives of the characters, the text follows each character's line of thought. And to be true to the way anyone thinks, thoughts tend to drift off in random directions or pop up in choppy and incoherent portions. It was a great tactic by the author for the reader to feel one with the character, all until the reader ends up getting lost trying to follow the train of thought.
Some of the things that crossed my mind for the duration of reading this novel:
War is tragic. Of course, a simple and well known fact. Until you are truly exposed to the tragedies that co-exist with a war, you may know, but not know about how tragic it can be. Yes we are currently in a "war" and yes many of our men and women have laid down their lives during it. But could you imagine how different the American civilian perspective on this war would have been if it took place in our own backyard. When we know someone that has lost their life in battle we morn and life feels unbelievably harsh, but imagine how much more difficult it would be to have the hospital down your street filled with mangled bodies that are constantly haunting your dreams. Imagine volunteering, devoting your time and energy at the front lines in a medic tent tending to the wounded and watching men die as many many women did as nurses in WWI.
There are other horrible parts of the war that we do witness though which do not change based on where the war is located. The war changes the service men and women involved in the strenuous tasks of protecting the safe and sound civilians back home. The book mentions "shell shock" and the horrors that soldiers face from it. The reliving of horrible experiences from the battlefield. Today we deal with men and women that come home with serious problems of PTSD and struggle through everyday life. I have read numerous articles on men and women giving up and ending their own lives because they cannot handle the stress that occurs from PTSD. Luckily there is some help that soldiers can receive but as any psychiatrist would say, it's admitting the problem that's the hardest. If you know someone that is experiencing PTSD, get them help. It wont be easy but teaching an individual to cope with what he or she witnessed is a step in the right direction for "normalcy".
Lives are changed forever because of wars, that will never change. Marriages end, lives are lost, people are injured both mentally and physically.
No one wins in a war... Everyone loses something, no matter what the political outcome is.