Read in January/February 2015
Synopsis (via GoodReads):
In 1914, just as war was declared, 20 year-old Vera Brittain was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later, her life—and that of her whole generation—had been irrevocably changed in a way that no one could have imagined in the tranquil pre-war era. Testament of Youth is Brittain’s account of how she lost the man she loved, nursed the wounded, survived those agonizing years, and emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time. It still retains the power to shock, move, and enthrall readers today.
I heard about this book during the inaugural discussion of The Things They Carried by O’Brien last fall. The professor leading the discussion listed it as one of the better memoirs written post-conflict (didn’t matter what conflict). At that time, I had just finished reading other World War I books as part of the Kansas City Public Library‘s Great War Great Read program, including All Quiet on the Western Front as well as The Guns of August.
The first two parts struck a vibrant chord within me. Oh how I wished I could have met Vera Brittain. The third part drug a bit but not too much. Testament covers her life from 1900 to 1925. From middle-class daughter to suffragette student at Oxford to VAD at home in England and abroad in Malta and France and all the losses in between. Even one hundred years later, her tale gripped my heart and held me captivated.