Love and War
This is the second novel of an upstairs-downstairs saga featuring the families at Trenwith. Anyone who has not read the first, Love is Not Enough, may find the absent characters discussed and the events referred to in the beginning chapters a little bewildering.
This novel deals mainly with the downstairs family as the Great War offers the younger generation an escape from domestic service. Jack Barlow, a groom at Trenwith, joins up hoping to serve as a mechanic but is sent to the trenches. When he is wounded, he is rescued by Louise, a French farmer’s wife. His memory lost, he falls in love and plans to stay with her on the farm although he knows he should return to the British lines.
His sister Rose leaves her place as a parlour maid to join the VADs, hoping one day to train as a nurse. A great beauty, she is admired by Luke Trenwith, heir to the estate, although he accepts there can never be marriage between a Trenwith and a Barlow. Luke volunteers for the Royal Flying Officers Corps. In France, he and Jack meet again, no longer as master and servant.
The French scenes are the best. The horrors of the trenches, the terrible death rate and the burden of the German occupation on the French peasants are well drawn. Jack, Sarah and Louise are likeable and often convincing characters set in their period. But because of the loose ends dangling at both the beginning and the end of the novel, I would recommend reading the first in the series before tackling this one.