I recently sat down to make a list of recommended reads for World War 1. I was thinking of the novels and first hand accounts that I had read (and re read) and four really stood out for me.
My all time favourite would be J. L . Carr’s novella A month in the country. First published in 1980, it tells of two veterans who meet several years after wars end in a small Yorkshire village as they work as restorer and archaeologist at the village church. War is a haunting memory still affecting their lives even in a peaceful and idyllic countryside.
Somehow I stumbled over Robert Graves’ Goodbye to all that and I have read and reread this powerful account of the experiences of the front line in the Great War.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is a modern novel which traces the impact of the war on a young man’s life. When it was published in 1993 I remember it being very popular in our libraries – largely due to an amazing word of mouth effect.
My list is very much a personal selection – other classics you might think of like Erich Maria Remarque’s All quiet on the Western Front is there as well as that New Zealand tale of the sufferings of conscientious objectors – Archibald Baxter’s We will not cease. I have popped in some good histories and poetry selections as well as War horse by Michael Morpurgo.
Do you have a World War 1 novel, poem or history that you would recommend?
Friday 25 April 2014 is Anzac Day. Christchurch is currently celebrating Anzac Day with a Dawn Service in Cranmer Square (where a temporary cenotaph is erected) and a Citizens Service at the ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square. The details for each service are available on the Christchurch City Council website. For the locations and times of other commemorations around Christchurch details can be found on the RSA website.
Each year many wreaths and bouquets from the Dawn Service end up at the statue of Sgt Henry James Nicholas V.C. M.M., northwest of the Bridge of Remembrance on Cambridge Terrace.
Henry Nicholas was the first soldier from the Canterbury Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He died in action on 23 October 1918 aged 26. He was awarded the Military Medal posthumously for his bravery during the fight for the bridgeheads at the River Ecaillon near the village of Beaudignies on 23 October 1918, 12 days before the New Zealanders’ capture of the town of Le Quesnoy.
Tomorrow is Good Friday (note: not Easter Friday). It, and Easter Monday, are public holidays and so our libraries will be closed. But Saturday and Sunday aren’t public hols – so the libraries will be open.
Last Easter Donna remembered some of her favourite Easter things. Seeing all those coloured Easter eggs reminded me of what a family time Easter is for many people and how the giving of Easter eggs is still a treat for young and old.
As a child I had an indulgent aunt who showered me with wonderful eggs – so much so that I was still dealing with them weeks if not months later. Some of them looked awfully like those pink and blue confections. Fortunately (or not) they seemed to have a long shelf life. Hot cross buns toasted and served with butter, a sit down family feast with all the roast trimmings – these traditions have continued on in our families.
Another tradition is uncertain Easter weather! Sometimes wonderful, sometimes so bad like the Easter where the dining table at our house was given over to a giant Where’s Wally jigsaw that kept the family amused for several wet days. Make sure you are prepared for all eventualities with goodies from our collections.
Want to see some photos of Easters gone by? Have a look at this DigitalNZ set Easter Parade.
Last year we celebrated 200 years since the publication of Pride and Prejudice. Now Kiwi comedienne Penny Ashton has launched Promise and Promiscuity – a Jane Austen inspired musical – upon the unsuspecting public. Christchurch audiences can see it for two nights – April 11 and 12 – at her old school, Rangi Ruru, which is celebrating 125 years this year. Penny claims to have safely negotiated a tour of Canada and parts of New Zealand without being beaten up by zealous Janeites. More details on Penny’s website or iticket.