Having previously had the privilege of interviewing Liz Trenow, author of In Love and War on Linda’s Book Bag (here) when The Silk Weaver was published, I’m thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for Liz’s latest novel In Love and War. As well as sharing my review, I asked Liz about things that she has loved and lost as that’s one of the themes of In Love and War and she’s written a super guest post in reply.
Published by Pan Macmillan on 25th January 2018, In Love and War is available for pre-order through these links.
In Love and War
Three women, once enemies. Their secrets will unite them.
The First World War is over. The war-torn area of Flanders near Ypres is no longer home to troops, but groups of tourists. Controversial battlefield tourism now brings hundreds of people to the area, all desperate to witness first-hand where their loved ones fell.
At the Hotel de la Paix in the small village of Hoppestadt, three women arrive, searching for traces of the men they have loved and lost.
Ruby is just twenty-one, a shy Englishwoman looking for the grave of her husband. Alice is only a little older but brimming with confidence; she has travelled all the way from America, convinced her brother is in fact still alive. Then there’s Martha, and her son Otto, who are not all they seem to be . . .
The three women in Liz Trenow’s In Love and War may have very different backgrounds, but they are united in their search for reconciliation: to resolve themselves to what the war took from them, but also to what life might still promise for the future …
What I have loved and lost
A Guest Post by Liz Trenow
It is tempting to write about the people whom I have loved and lost – my father, for example, who was a remarkable man. He died aged 96 having lived through most of the 20th century and two world wars, having saved the silk weaving company from bankruptcy several times, and having lived an incredibly full and active life in spite of losing a leg in his teens after a road accident.
And then there was my mother, the most caring, loving, intuitive, home-making mum you could ever hope for. A light went out of my life when she died.
But you have asked for something, not someone. So what I have chosen is a house, the house that my parents built for themselves, a modest bungalow in a beautiful position on the edge of a wartime gravel pit that had filled up with water. It was, literally, the house on the lake. They managed to buy the land from an uncle at a very reasonable price, and my father did much of the work himself. We moved there when I was nine, and I thought I’d arrived in heaven: a large garden, much of it completely wild, and apple orchard and a lake on which we paddled rafts and small boats, playing pirates. In springtime the water was thronged with ducklings, goslings and cygnets.
My father and mother remained very much in love throughout their lives and in my mind this place seemed to symbolise their marriage. They built it together and right to the end both of them relished every aspect of living there. Sadly, once they died, it had to be sold.
Recently, the new owners demolished the bungalow and built a much larger, grander house in its place. Now I avoid driving down that road: it is too painful to return. But one day I will recreate that place in my imagination, for a novel.
Oh my goodness Liz. I know exactly what you mean. My grandfather gave my parents some land next to a little brook and Dad built their bungalow where we moved when I was 7. It had the most wonderful gardens. It too has recently been demolished and turned into a huge guest house and where there were once flowers and trees there is now tarmac and parking. I avoid that road too!
My Review of In Love and War
Three women from very different countries and backgrounds find they are not so very different after all.
In Love and War is a lovely, lovely book. Having read it, I find myself very moved by the dedication at the front which didn’t have a great deal of meaning to begin with. I feel Liz Trenow’s story is a fitting tribute to Lt. Geoffrey Foveaux Trenow and all men of all nationalities who lost their lives.
There’s no rampaging, heart-thumping plot here, but In Love and War is still a hugely compelling reading with a wonderful insight into the lives of those who lost loved ones during World War 1. I found that the gentle plot crept up on me and provided an emotional read that took me by surprise so that I felt very moved and not a little tearful afterwards.
Liz Trenow has a real eye for detail so that the settings are described in a way that makes them come to life. Having visited the WW1 battlefields and cemeteries around Ypres I found myself transported back there so vividly, but with a more substantial realism. I loved the way real places and historical events were so skilfully woven into a gorgeous narrative and the smatterings of German and French in the direct speech added to the authenticity.
The characters of Ruby, Alice and Martha are distinct and convincing, but even better is the way Liz Trenow helps the reader understand that there are no winners or losers in conflict, that none of us is perfect and that a little kindness goes a very long way in helping understanding and reconciliation. Freddie’s description in particular of the bond between fighting men is outstanding.
I think In Love and War is a book to take your time over. It has depth that rewards reflection and thought on the part of the reader. What impressed me most is that Liz Trenow teaches us that it is not physical memorials, or the places where our loved ones are buried that honour them, but rather the memories we cherish that make them live on. I really recommend In Love and War as a moving, evocative, historical read.
About Liz Trenow
Liz Trenow is the author of three previous historical novels: The Last Telegram, The Forgotten Seamstress and The Poppy Factory. Liz’s family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions. This unique history inspired her first two novels, and this, her fourth novel.
Liz is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in East Anglia, UK, with her artist husband, and they have two grown-up daughter.
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