With the centenary commemorations this year, everyone, regardless of age, seems to be taking a big interest in the First World War and really starting to understand the sacrifices made by a whole generation of young men (and women) during that tragic time. We were very excited to go along and see the Poppies at The Tower a couple of weeks ago - a totally spectacular and very poignant tribute that we will never forget - and we also read a child-friendly history of the Great War, The Story of World War One by Richard Brassey, together.(Click through to read my review.) I've also been studying In Flanders Fields with the kids at school which they've found fascinating.
When Marcus Sedgwick's The Foreshadowing arrived for review, I was intrigued to see how the horrors of war would be portrayed in a fictional work destined for a young audience. The book was first published in 2005 but a new World War One anniversary edition with new bonus material was released this year.
The story follows the trials and tribulations of the Fox family who are based in Brighton, where the father works in a hospital. We discover Alexandra, nicknamed Sasha, who longs to be a nurse, despite her parents' misgivings about an upper class girl belittling herself by working with the riff-raff. There are also two sons, Edgar, who, much to his father's pride, is keen to sign up and head off to war and Tom, who would prefer to avoid the bloodbath and do something more noble like becoming a doctor. Noble in his eyes, but certainly not in his father's or even those strangers who dare to hand him a white feather to criticise his cowardice.
Sasha does get the chance to work at the hospital as a nurse but she discovers that she has a gift - or a curse? - and can foresee the future, knowing when somebody is going to die.When she foresees the death of a loved one, she is desperate to change the future, without knowing if this is even possible, and puts a plan in action to make her way to the front lines to do her best to change the course of events.
The book gives a great insight into the mentalities of the time - how war was seen and women's place in society, in particular - and it does give some idea of the horrors of war, even if it avoids mentioning too much death or suffering. The slightly paranormal edge makes it all seem one step away from reality - probably a good thing for a book presenting a particularly nasty series of events to a young audience - but the author also explains in his notes that many people during the war did mention having premonitions or foreshadowings of deaths.
Even as a grown-up, I found it to be a fascinating and captivating read.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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