The Moon Field
This is a book about Britain in the Great War, and George, junior postman, his pranks as a youth, his infatuation and his hopes for love. Sent to war, George is wounded, recovers and returned to Lakeland with a broken face. Now that his face is partly hidden by a painted metal prosthesis, dare his loves look at him.
In an extraordinary record of Britain at war, the towns, landscapes, people, commerce and industry are changed immeasurably from 1915 to 1919.
This book details army trench life as well as the home life of a wealthy girl both loved by George and, by coincidence, his CO. At a well-observed gaming table, officers drink and gamble as poor George peels spuds. Shells bring dirt and plaster down, equally on them all. Amazing details of trench warfare, the wail of shells, and the rolling sounds of men taking cover in muddy “funk holes” are revealed. The terror of pain, the horrendous butchery in slime and mud give new slants on men’s behaviour under fire with fine telling of both feelings and sounds. I rejoice being in the first generation of British men never to have been forced to war.
This masterpiece must have taken years to write, for it encompasses a vast resource of research and memories. The narration, though lengthy, is never tiresome, and introspection is as valuable here as dialogue. The ending is touching, as it should be, but holds one or two surprises.