If You Go Away – Adele Parks – England and France

adele parks

Why a booktrail?

How war affects those left behind or those who struggle to see its purpose. How those left behind are left with the most heartbreaking of choices..amazon

Story in a nutshell

1914.

Vivian  – She is young, full of the possibilities of what she will do with her life and excited to be a debutante. However one false move and she is forced to marry in order to cover a potential scandal. On her wedding day however, war breaks out. Not a good omen in any form. Her husband is one of the first to sign up – both of them keen to avoid the disappointment of marriage. vivian is left with running the farm and being left alone to survive.

Howard – He is a brilliant playwright and writer who goes to the front to see the conflict for himself but what he sees shocks him to the core. So when conscriptions becomes law, he doesn’t want to go. Conscientious objectors are outcasts of society and it will take enormous strength to stand by his beliefs. When he gets work on Vivian’s farm, their struggle becomes two sides of the same coin. And everything changes.

Place and setting

The Savoy Hotel in London, where Vivian spends her wedding night; it’s still an incredibly special place to go for cocktails.  The Apollo Theatre in London. In my imagination  Warrington’s Playhouse was about that size and age, although maybe not as smart! Hyde Park Where the speakers stand and challenge government views on the war
The Savoy Hotel in London, where Vivian spends her wedding night; it’s still an incredibly special place to go for cocktails.
The Apollo Theatre in London. 
Warrington’s Playhouse was about that size and age, although maybe not as smart!
Hyde Park
Where the speakers stand and challenge government views on the war

Set just before and during The Great War, this is the story of those left behind and how the horrors of war can filter down into every nook and cranny of life wherever that may be and whoever you might be.

Vivian lives the live of an innocent – a debutante whose only interest, if not purpose in life, is to find a husband and settle down. One wrong move and she is forced to marry someone ‘ suitable’. War is an alien concept to her until her new husband joins up.

Howard meanwhile has been to the front and has seen the detail of destruction. The scenes he sees are horrific, wrong and raw and they leave him with such an impression that he refuses to sign up when the time comes.

The night before a battle was interminable, The divisions lined up in the trenches that had been dug by sappers, silent except for the hard breathing of men, the shuffle of heavy boot and the occasional clink of bayonets.

The Somme - battle of Pozieres Ridge one of the battles mentioned in the book and it is where a memorial now stands known as the windmill. There are several sites here to visit and remember - http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/87600/POZIERES%20MEMORIAL https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Windmill/@50.0409527,2.7247926,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x72047f16d2eaad3e The Somme - Pozieres Charles and Natahniel are known to have been here. On the Albert Bapaume road https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Route+de+Bapaume,+80300+Albert,+France/@50.012288,2.674666,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x47dd58e8d478caa9:0x62b3f33f2919e328 Somme - Epehy wood farm the final resting place for many of the men - http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/60301/Epehy%20Wood%20Farm%20Cemetery,%20Epehy
Dunkirk
The Somme – Battle of Pozieres Ridge – One of the battles mentioned in the book and it is where a memorial now stands known as the windmill. There are several sites here to visit and remember – http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/87600/POZIERES%20MEMORIAL
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Windmill/@50.0409527,2.7247926,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x72047f16d2eaad3e
The Somme – Pozieres
Charles and Natahniel are known to have been here. On the Albert Bapaume road
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Route+de+Bapaume,+80300+Albert,+France/@50.012288,2.674666,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x47dd58e8d478caa9:0x62b3f33f2919e328
Somme – Epehy wood farm
the final resting place for many of the men – http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/60301/Epehy%20Wood%20Farm%20Cemetery,%20Epehy

A conscientious objector was not seen in a good light by many – to be any kind of outcast is hard but at a time when tensions were high and the pull of doing what everyone else was doing for the good of your country must have been unbearable.

Howard witnessed what he’d known he would – carnage. He’d seen too many dead bodies to recoil. It was his lack of response that was most repulsive now

Howard comes to live on the farm Vivian runs. Their relationship grows as war casts shadows over both of their lives. Vivian’s husband is still away, and what woman would be allowed to divorce a serving solider? How will their affair be viewed? Doesn’t war heighten every emotion possible?

“They had stepped outside society. People in love did.”

This was a time of war when pressure to conform, pressure to fight, pressure to survive was as great as you an imagine. Put yourself in these people’s shoes and then decide who is right…if you can.

Bookish musings

Adele writes so well about human emotions and the relationships between people that you really get a feel for the characters. I didn’t like Vivian at first but understood why she was attracted to Howard. He was more than a way out from her situation and although I don’t condone her having an affair, it makes you think how these things were viewed years ago and the options for women at the time.

The scenes which really came alive for me were those with Howard and the scenes in war time. You can feel the sweat on the soldiers foreheads and see the fear in their eyes and it’s heartbreaking even reading about it so god knows what it was like for those there. I had never really thought much about the men who stayed behind through choice so that was a nice angle to explore.

With this and the spare brides, Adele really is giving us some unique viewpoints of war and things to think about .

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