Evie’s War follows four turbulent years in the life of a young New Zealand woman, whose first trip to London, 1914, coincides with the beginning of World War I. Instead of meeting eligible young men, touring the continent and enjoying parties, Evie finds herself helping the greviously wounded. Written in diary form, this tracks the various events as they occur, from the point of view of someone who sees the terrible after-effects.
The diary format makes this an extremely easy read, allowing the reader to rush through, and would well suit the abilities of a reluctant teen reader or a younger reader (10/11+) who is reading above their level.
Whilst there are some horrendous injuries – including a rather gruesome description of effects of the mustard gas – these are not dwelt on in too great depth. I am not sure, however, that I find the diary form quite as engaging as a more conventional format would allow. Characters come and go, especially the many injured soldiers, giving little chance to empathise with their plights or even remember who was who. This format, and the era, also made the romantic moments feel less romance and lacked rather in passion- however, that does make it safe for the younger-but-mature reader.
There is plenty of historical matter in here, the results of meticulous research. The diseases, the injuries, the events, all allowing the reader to experience the true tragedies of a world at war. The ANZAC Gallipoli campaign earns a few entries: the landing is recognised (25th April, 1915), and the evacuation of soldiers, from the 15th December.
Overall, it was a good and relatively engaging read, with Evie proving a spirited heroine. Whilst I found the diary form a bit distancing, I think that it is required of the material, for otherwise it would be a truly grim read and off-putting for the target audience. As it stands, it provides a strong insight into darker times, of which the youth of today (and even those well-past youth, like myself) cannot truly imagine, whilst also being a story of courage, love, compassion and friendship.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
by Anna Mackenzie
Published by Longacre Press