Do Not Forget Me Quite

Written by Richard Pike
Review by Rachel Malone

Do Not Forget Me Quite spans nearly twenty years of a family’s life, starting on the eve of WWI. The main focus is on the father, John, who feels morally obliged to enlist in the medical corps as hostilities commence. His wife Emma resents this, and in part the book explores the ensuing personal and family distress that follows for the couple and their children. The most evocative section is when John is invalided home before the end of the war, and John and Emma are forced to confront the consequences of their choices. Towards the end of the book Emma fades out, and their eldest daughter replaces her as a female protagonist.

Readers should be aware that the book is, and feels, very long. The focus shifts between several family members, and intersects with the life of Ivor Gurney, a significant musician and poet of the time. I found myself wondering whether it would have been more effective for Richard to split the ideas between two or more books? The apparent coincidences bridging the different scenes were not easy to follow, and did feel very contrived.

Technically the book has been well proofread and presented, with chapter and section breaks clearly signalled with year indicators where appropriate. Cream paper rather than the white used is more relaxing for the eye, however. I wondered about occasional turns of phrase which seemed too modern, but mostly Richard uses variations of dialect to suggest the home areas in England of characters.

The book will be enjoyed by readers who like exploring the land battles of WWI from the perspective of comparatively unimportant participants who have no possibility of making significant change to the setting or the system.