A Rose for the Anzac Boys

Jackie French

A Rose for the Anzac Boys
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A Rose for the Anzac Boys

Jackie French

The ‘War to end all Wars’, as seen through the eyes of three young women.

It is 1915. War is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen-year-old New Zealander Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge’s brothers are in the army, and her twin, tim, is listed as ‘missing’ in the devastating defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli. Desperate to do their bit - and avoid the boredom of school and the restrictions of Society - Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recruited by the over-stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls - and their Anzac boys as well - discover that even going ‘home’ can be both strange and wonderful.

Exhaustively researched but written with the lightest of touches, this is Jackie French at her very best. Ages 12+

Review

We are in World War I and 16-year-old Midge Macpherson is in a conservative ‘finishing school’ in England. As the war rages in the trenches, she feels increasingly helpless and useless. With two brothers fighting, she is soon desperate to do her bit. When her twin brother goes missing, the urge is irresistible, and with her friends decides to travel to France and face the carnage head-on. Jackie French is an amazingly prolific author, and one wonders how she found the time to do all the research she’s obviously done in order to write this book. The accumulation of details about the war and the period recreates a time and a world that are fully realised. Yet French keeps these details secondary to her characters and her story – this is no dry study. I found it very involving, wanting to know what was going to happen next to these inspiring people trying to survive such a devastating and world-changing event. Highly recommended for teenage to adult readers.

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