Review Blog

May 04 2011

A rose for the ANZAC boys by Jackie French

cover image

Harper Collins, 2008. ISBN: 9780732285401.
This novel is simply stunning. I first read A rose for the ANZAC boys in year eight for The Readers' Cup and since then it has kept a special place in my mind and heart. It is a perfect example of brilliant teenage fiction. A story inside a story. The prologue and the epilogue tell us about Lachie and his ancestry of war heroes and their tribute to the Anzac Boys.
The main story is set though 1915 to 1920 and follows the journey Margery McPherson takes to find her twin brother Tim. She and her friends Anne and Ethel, desperate to help, go to France to set up a canteen for the poor soldiers going home. They tend to the desperate men some nursing fatal injuries as they wait for the train to take them to be treated properly. As the years pass Midge sees for herself the true horrors of war. She serves as an ambulance driver for the duchesses for a brief time before going on to work in Casualty Station number fifteen as an unofficial nurse with her Aunt Lalie. Each chapter begins with the inspirational piece, a letter either received or sent by Midge. The letters show us a wider view of the trauma of WW1 and the types of things soldiers would have thought and felt during that time of crisis.
This story is stunning, the text creates a feast of authentic images that will stay with you long after you've finished. I recommend this novel as it is written spectacularly and is in most cases it tells of what war in 1915 was really like in a much more condensed version than is common. Jackie French conducted years of research before she started working on this novel - and sometimes even she didn't know whether she could finish it but I'm glad she did complete it as I'm sure that anyone could both benefit and enjoy this story no matter your age.
Kayla Gaskell, 15

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