April is the month in which we remember the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This battle, which first saw Canada fight as the cohesive Canadian Expeditionary Force (4 Divisions) rather than as various units attached to the British Expeditionary Force, ran between April 9 and 12, and will ‘celebrate’ its 100th anniversary next year (1917).
Although Canada’s key time of remembrance comes next year, we have been looking back to WW1 since 2014, the 100th anniversary of its start. I especially have been immersed in this history for the past three years as I researched and worked on my upcoming new novel, After Paris.
I have read non-fiction books, war diaries, articles and of course many great novels, including Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, Pat Barker’s Toby’s Room, and Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. My two favourites; however, are Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong and Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road.
Any and all of these books are well worth reading – not because of a great passion for war stories, but for the impact that war has on society and on the individual. They each tell stories of the anguish and lasting residue on the characters involved; some who realized a slow healing and others who didn’t. The books are timeless as the themes and situations continue in today’s world. We only need to look at the tragedy of how many suicides have occurred amongst our own Canadian soldiers to understand that the horrors of war leave a lasting footprint on those exposed.
My new book, After Paris opens in 1916 in Paris. It therefore includes a period of WW1; however, like my debut novel Family Business, it is not a war story. It is a story about a character, Liesbeth, and her experience both during and after the war. Watch for the release of After Paris in June 2016.