Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...






I enjoy reading books set during WW1 which cover as wide a range as possible. 



In July I will share five of my favourites, some non fiction and some fiction



Where Poppies Blow

John Lewis -Stempel


29905681
W&N
2016


WHERE POPPIES BLOW is the story of the British soldiers of the Great War and their relationship with the animals and plants around them. This relationship was of profound importance, because it goes a long way to explaining why they fought, and how they found the will to go on. And in that relationship is found some of the highest, noblest aspirations of humanity in times of war.


My thoughts...

It's not all about blood and bullets and this glorious book looks at the continuance and constancy of allowing, in the midst of carnage, the therapeutic benefits of nature. And, of how, even in the midst of horror, the birds still sang, the blossom bloomed as beautiful as ever, and the tiny creatures of nature still went about their daily business.

The joy of nature brought comfort and in some cases, healing, when I am sure it seemed like the entire world had been plunged into chaos. The author very cleverly divides the content of the book into manageable chapters, each with a  foot firmly placed in what was happening in the war, whilst at the same time allowing a glimpse into a very different world.

The book begins as it should, with a beautiful poem, August, 1914 by John Masefield, who juxtaposes the beauty of the English countryside against what was happening just a few hundred miles away in the trenches of the Western Front. And just as poetry can evoke such strong emotions, so can this recounted story of a group of soldiers, from the Royal Warwickshire, who tenderly buried a dead pigeon they found in a communication trench, or the deep and abiding comradeship between an officer and his horse, or of how medics treated both wounded soldiers and animals, even to making artificial wooden legs for dogs who were thus injured in battle.

One of my favourite chapters, entitled The Bloom of Life explains how soldiers cultivated small trench gardens and regularly sent home for seeds and how grassy mounds would be transformed with nasturtiums, daffodils and hyacinths, and how billets would bloom with tiger lilies, auriculas and roses. And of course, who can forget the image of the poppy fields of Flanders.



Poppy Field Detail
Photograph by kind permission
Digital Images



So many beautifully recounted stories make up the whole of this fascinating book which is a joy to read from start to finish.




About the Author

John Lewis-Stempel was born in Herefordshire and is an author and farmer, who writes on a range of subjects including military history and the natural world. His best-selling books include Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field (2014), winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize for Natural Writing. He is a columnist for Country Life and in 2016 was shortlisted for Magazine Columnist of the Year.






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Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa and I appreciate your interest.