Born at the end of the First World War, a young girl struggles to find her own identity in her big family and is pushed into a stormy marriage through a terrible misunderstanding from which her pride refuses to let her back down. As her own personal world begins to crumble, the foundation of the world around her is shaken as Germany once again declares war and her brothers and young husband sign up with the first wave of volunteers.
Walking Wounded tells the story of those left behind in a Blitz-ravaged London, and of the web of loyalty, guilt and duty that shapes the decisions of the women awaiting the return of their men-folk as the war draws to a close.
Spanning the period from the Armistice of the First World War to the exodus of the Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1950s, Walking Wounded is a family saga whose internal violence is mirrored by the world stage upon which it is set.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne tells a story from the end of the First World War, through to and beyond the end of the Second World War. It is a tale of violence, grief, strife and struggle. But uncommonly, it is not a story of the men and boys who went overseas to fight. This is a story of those who are left behind at home. Those who are struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of the war, the outbreak of the second world war and the trauma it leaves behind.
Walking Wounded does not just refer to the soldiers returning from war, but everyone touched, scarred by the war that almost brought the world to its knees. Tragedy strikes early in the book with the death of the elder sister and daughter in a family ahead of marrying her soldier groom. The youngest daughter suffers a turbulent life, coming into this world on the back of war. Trying to fit in with so many siblings around her, she falls into a hasty, dangerous marriage.
Dealing with the loss of her father, who never truly came back from the First World War, her mother to illness, she finds herself being brought up by her eldest sister. Finding herself in a relationship with a fiery, tempestuous young man, she enjoys the rush she feels being with him, until the fateful moment he turns on her, beats her. He manages to convince her she hurts herself in an accident and that he was trying to help, but this just seals her fate at his hands.
Her life goes through ups and downs, thanks to her abusive husband, the outbreak of World War 2 and a wartime pregnancy. She has to deal with evacuation to the market town of Hitchin, in Hertfordshire (my home town) to have her baby in relative safety. I had hoped for a bit more detail making the albeit short scene set in Hitchin to describe things in such a way it was beyond any doubt where the location was. That said, it was a minor scene, and that is my opinion as a born and bred Hitchin resident.
The story moves on to pick up the strife the family suffers through following the aftermath of the war, and significant upheaval. Our downtrodden young mother has to make some difficult decisions ultimately for her and her daughter’s benefit.
Walking Wounded is a novel approach to the strife and horrors of war. Not, as is so often the case, told from the side of the soldiers out in the theatre of war, but from the angle of those left at home wondering, worrying, uncertain. All in all, a wonderful read dealing with some dark and difficult subject matter.