1915. Charlotte Armstrong-Barnes, rising sixteen, longs to do something useful for the war effort, like nursing, but her genteel mother is horrified at the idea. Charlotte’s older brother, Francis, is in an even more uncomfortable position; he abhors all form of war and soon he will be called up. What will he do?
The Dundas family runs the local village shop. Seventeen-year-old Maggie resents what she sees as Charlotte’s high and mighty airs, but she has more than a soft spot for Francis, and when Francis and Charlotte invite her, her twin brother John and younger brother Alex to a picnic, she agrees. John, who is secretly in love with Charlotte, is eager. He longs to join up and ‘do his bit’ for his country. And Alex, now fourteen, is desperate for the war to go on long enough for him to join up.
The war will change all their lives forever; they do not know it, but the traditional views of class, gender and war will be blown sky high as the war on the Western Front consumes more and more young men.
As always, Theresa Breslin writes with insight and empathy. And Charlotte, Francis, Maggie, John and Alex each have their own distinct problems, hopes and fears, and each will have to face their deepest fears, learn the lessons, and move on. There will be tragedy as well as triumph and all of them will be somewhere different by the time the war ends.
Remembrance would be a splendid book for young people to learn about the changing mind-set of the time and how the Great War affected the status quo. There are useful notes at the end, not only about Breslin’s research, but also covering themes as pacifism, the changing role of women, and war-time censorship.