2016: 35. We That Are Left

“It was raining as they followed the coffin from the church.”

We That Are Left, Clare Clark

Such a perfect follow-up to The Great Silence (indeed, it is clear from the author’s note that Nicholson’s book was one of her primary sources is writing this one).  It’s a post-War World One novel, largely focusing on the Melville family, and how the war has ripped them from a perfect Edwardian family (OR WERE THEY?), and forced them to face the reality of the new world.  Contrasted with the Melville girls is family friend Oskar Grunewald (who has been forced to change his name to Oscar Greenville, in light of the public outcry about the Boche), who was born outside that Edwardian privilege and has to make his own way in the world.  So basically, a well-written, and actually realistic Downton.  

That’s not fair - because this book is beautiful, really grappling with the War and especially with grief and loss, and manages to fold in a plot twist that reads as tragic rather than soapy.  I very, very much enjoyed this book. It’s in my soft-spot, subject matter wise, but the writing and the characters would appeal to anyone who likes books about people trying to grow up and find their way in the world.  It’s a rare historical fiction that makes the both understandable emotionally but still of their time, and it uses the history as a backdrop without a sort of showoffiness or clunky interposition.  One of my favorite new novels I’ve read in a while.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017