Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young - A Moving Story About Life in the Aftermath of the First World War.

It's five years since I read My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young, and the story of the men and women caught up in the First World War both in France and at home, has stayed in my mind, especially as my father fought in the Great War when not much more than a boy, and although he returned, suffering physical wounds far less severe than Riley's, his life was never the same.
The Heroes' Welcome takes up the story of Riley and his girlfriend, Nadine, as they marry in March 1919, with Peter, his Commanding Officer, and Rose, Peter's cousin who had nursed Riley, and Peter's son, Tom, in attendance. The fact that Peter's wife, Julia, is not there illustrates the strain their marriage is already under after the war.
Louisa Young quotes a passage from The Odyssey about a wife so relieved to see her husband again she feels like a shipwrecked sailor reaching land. Julia wants to rekindle their love and take up where they left off, but Peter has his own problems dealing with the fact that so many of his men were lost.
Riley and Nadine too have their problems coming to terms with Riley's injuries which get in the way of the joy of their marriage, and the reaction of their families to their wedding.
This book is worth reading too for Louisa's ability to get right into the heads of her characters as they journey forward through 1919, trying to put the war behind them but, like Peter, unable to talk about their experiences. She also graphically illustrates the reaction of society to the injured: there was not a heroes' welcome waiting for them all.
I'm pleased to say that Devotion, Louisa Young's next book, set in 1930s Italy will be released on April 6th.

'Tom loves Nenna. Nenna loves her father. Her father loves 

This continues the story of Tom Locke, Peter's son, and I can't wait!  

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