Favourite WWI Fiction – a teaser

On a survey about WWI fiction I asked participants to name a few favourite novels set in that time. Here’s a sampling of those mentioned. I’ll be back with a more complete report when time permits.

  • To Serve Them All My Days by R.F. Delderfield
  • The Horizon by Douglas Reeman
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts neues) by Erich Maria Remarque
  • For Two Cents, I’ll Go With You by Marcia Maxwell
  • The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Britain
  • The Flowers of the Field by Sarah Harrison
  • In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard
  • We Shall Not Sleep by Anne Perry
  • Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
  • The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff
  • I’ll Bring You Buttercups by Elizabeth Elgin
  • At the Going Down of the Sun by Elizabeth Darrell
  • The Soldier’s Bride by Maggie Ford
  • The Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  • The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
  • Never Forget Me by Marguerite Kaye
  • A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd
  • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (non-fiction)
  • The Absolutist by John Boyne
  • The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek
  • Fall of Poppies – short stories by eight different authors
  • At the Edge of Summer by Jessica Brockmole
  • Time and Regret by M.K. Tod (!!!)

Well friends, definitely lots to choose from. I’ll be back with more information.

You can find other information about the WWI survey at WWI Fiction – Readers Have Their Say.

Celebrating 3 years with a giveaway

ContestWhere does the time go?

I began this blog in early 2012 and here it is March 2015. Three years and 381 posts later so much has happened.

So I’m celebrating with a little contest. The prizes are one copy of UNRAVELLED and one copy of LIES TOLD IN SILENCE.

I hope you will enter. To do so, send me an email – mktod [at] bell [dot] net.

A few words about each novel.

Unravelled CoverUNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage.

In October 1935, Edward Jamieson’s memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward’s past puts his present life in jeopardy. When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage.

Barbara Kyle author of Blood Between Queens: “M.K. Tod’s skilful debut novel spanning two world wars deftly illuminates the subtle stirrings of the human heart as movingly as it depicts the horrors of battle.”

Maryline, blogger at M’s Bookshelf: “What a debut! It captivated me from the very first page until the very last and frequently moved me to tears.”


In May 1914, Helene Noisette’s father believes war is imminent. Convinced Germany will head straight for Paris, he sends his wife, daughter, mother and younger son to Beaufort, a small village in northern France.

But when war erupts two months later, the German army invades neutral Belgium, sweeping south towards Paris. And by the end of September, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front. During the years that follow, with the rumbling of guns ever present in the distance, three generations of women come together to cope with deprivation, fear and the dreadful impacts of war.

In 1917, Helene falls in love with a young Canadian soldier wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge. But war has a way of separating lovers and families, of twisting promises and dashing hopes, and of turning the naïve and innocent into the jaded and war-weary. As the months pass, Helene is forced to reconcile dreams for the future with harsh reality.

Tony Riches of The Writing Desk: “This is without doubt one of the most moving and engaging books I have read in a very long time.”

Sharon Kay Penman author of Lionheart: “a novel that dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.”

FOR MORE THOUGHTS ON HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (use follow widget on left margin)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

The Book Club reads Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong by Sebastian FaulksLast June’s book selection meeting included my nomination of BIRDSONG to honour the centennial of WWI and on Monday, with Christmas lights twinkling in the background, the book club gals settled in for a discussion of war. (You can see all our selections here.)

We always start with a general question – did you like the book? This is not intended to solicit a lengthy response but more of a thumbs up or thumbs down kind of reaction. To my delight, the group gave Sebastian Faulks’s highly regarded novel a resounding thumbs up. They loved it and were blown away by Faulks’s  powerful descriptions of battle as well as the underground world of sappers.

We’re a fairly structured group, having learned over the years what it takes to prompt an interesting evening, and since I was leading the discussion, I had a number of other questions prepared as well as some information about the author.

At the age of fourteen, Sebastian Faulks made up his mind to become a writer. After university he had a series of jobs – running a book club, freelance book reviewer, feature writer, literary editor – but it wasn’t until the success of Birdsong that he could “focus his energies on books”. In describing his writing, Faulks says “he has this tremendous greed for the experience of the near past” and that his mission in writing about the world wars is “to articulate the horror which, for so many, was literally and devastatingly incommunicable.”

Why should we, in 2014, care about WWI, I asked. This question elicited immediate responses concerning its relevance to understanding the wars that are going on today, particularly in times like ours where conflicts are more local and have not required the enlistment of vast numbers of our population.

The group went on to talk about Faulks’s central theme – what are the limits of humanity – and his conclusion that there are no limits. Soldiers will endure a shocking degree of degradation and inhumanity spurred on by even the faintest glimmer of hope and the love they feel for their comrades.

We agonized over why governments and citizens at large permitted such wholesale slaughter as that which occurred at places like the Somme, and expressed shock at the commanders who sent their men into battle knowing the hopeless (suicidal?) conditions they faced. We discussed the weaponry of today compared with that of the early 20th century.

Talking about the main character, Stephen Wraysford, prompted comments about how his childhood and the devastating love affair with Isabelle had affected the man he became in conditions of war.

On the topic of style, the group agreed that Faulks’s more sparing style with few adjectives and lots of action verbs made the story flow in a compelling fashion. A few found the level of detail concerning tunnelling operations somewhat tedious or confusing. On the topic of the more modern section of the story – the one that occurs in 1978 and 1979 – most of the group felt Elizabeth’s story was unnecessary and too contrived. In contrast, Part I, which occurs in 1910, was deemed essential to appreciating Wraysford’s character development and his ultimate drive to survive.

A resounding endorsement for this powerful novel. Birdsong is a profound story that touched us all.

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available in paperback from Amazon and in e-book formats from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Mary can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.