Rated 5 stars ***** To be published April 1, 2014. (First published in Ireland in 2005). ebook. ARC. Arcade Publishing. (Includes Acknowledgments, Glossary and a Selected Bibliography).
Kitty, her brother Con, and his best friend Matthias were inseparable. They lived by a canal in a small town in Ireland, and grew up singing how “their side” was the best side. Amusing themselves on the canal, in the canal and on the towpath beside it, their lives revolved around each other and the canal.
When Matthias was 18 he and Con decided to join the British Army as they loved reading about foreign places, and joining would give them the opportunity to see the world. Despite being branded as traitors by some of their countrymen because of fighting for the British, they chose to leave all they knew behind and enlist. Sadly, they only got as far as the Mediterranean Sea before war against Germany broke out, and England rushed to the aid of France.
On the war front, Matthias, Con and the rest of the boys from Ireland experienced horrors no one would ever be able to erase from their memories. As they struggled to breathe in trenches filled with stagnant water and decaying bodies, or managed to survive violent battles, their minds constantly wandered back to Ireland wishing for the peacefulness of their youth.
Meanwhile Ireland was going through its own battles, as the Easter Uprising of 1916 caused even more hatred against their English oppressors. Ireland was now even more divided with Irish supporters against anything Protestant, including the home where Kitty worked and filled her mind with hopeful thoughts that Matthias and Con would come safely home. None of these three friends knew that this war would not only tear Ireland apart, but would also tear everything they ever knew about themselves into oblivion.
The horrific events of World War I are shown through the eyes of those who suffered and died as soldiers and nurses. It is unthinkable that despite all these deaths (over 57,000 killed in just one day) that the world would embark on yet another war just a few short years later. Students of history and of Ireland will learn much through reading this book.
Recommended for Adult readers.