20 thoughts on “Review: Letters from a Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends, ed. Alan Bishop and Mark Bostridge

  1. I should have realised the effects of my words on your expectations. Sorry, sorry 😛 I actually know what you mean about lack of continuity, but I’m hoping that the way the same story is told in Testament of Youth will provide some of that (although Trapunto didn’t like the Vera in it very much, so I’m approaching it with caution).

  2. I completely agree that it’s lovely having Ana back! I think this sounds like the wrong book at the wrong time. Being sad to leave family behind is just not the moment for a multiple-tragedy-to-loved-ones book. I mean, I could not begin to imagine trying to read something like that on a plane, where I would instantly start catastrophising that I would be the first to go…..

    You need jolly letters, to remind you that the one benefit of family being distant is that you can be on the receiving end of delightful missives from them.

    • Oh, I don’t catastrophize on planes. I feel perfectly fine on planes. But I would — and did — start worrying about what I would do if war were declared and everyone including me had to go off to war, and whether the government would grant me conscientious objector status because I’m a pacifist or if they wouldn’t do that anymore, and then how sad it would be to lose my friends to a terrible war…

      Jolly letters would have been better. You’re quite right. I won’t make such a silly mistake again.

  3. Three things:

    1) Yes! Ana DOES make everything she reads sound unmissable! It’s rather annoying, actually. In a I-kinda-adore-her-to-pieces sort of way.

    2) Very glad for the spoiler, as I do not want to read a book where EVERYONE DIES. I have three siblings, too, and they are not allowed to die, either.

    3) It’s kinda creepy how much Geoffrey Thurlow looks like Ryan Gosling.

    • I know! I need all my siblings! :p

      Thank you for your acknowledgement of the Thurlow resemblance. I showed a couple of my coworkers and they disagreed! Somehow!

  4. I think this book does indeed sound very sad, but also interesting. I might have to tackle it when I am feeling ready for a sad book, which happens more than I’d like to admit. There is just something about bawling over a book that really works for me at times. I know, I know, I am weird. And yes! I am so glad that Ana is back!

  5. If I had one of those Ryan Gosling tumblrs, I’d totally submit that photo with a Hey girl caption just to eff with people’s heads.

  6. Geoffrey Thurlow was in the SHERWOOD FOREST regiment? How did that not make it into your review? Laxity, Jenny, is a character flaw.

    I do not know if I will read this book but I have a bizarre obsession with the world wars so perhaps one day in future when I have forgotten this review and the mention that EVERYONE DIES, I will unwittingly draw it from a shelf and get sucked into it and then…BOOM, be sad.

    • I…didn’t put that in my review ONLY BECAUSE I didn’t notice it until you said it just now. My bad. Standards have relaxed over Christmas break and whatnot.

  7. I have to agree with Aarti. I might have to wait to read this when I can forget that EVERYONE DIES! It was on my wish list from Ana reviewing it, though, so I will probably get it one day. 🙂

  8. Your backfired plane-reading strategy makes a lot of sense. (Although being sad about having to go back to New York is a pretty cool way to be sad.) I am reading this book right now. Sort of–I still have it out from the library if that counts. I started it on my 36th birthday, feeling too sick to do anything but read, with a huge bruise on my foot that I’d just given myself by lobbing a slippery conditioner bottle at it like a missile while trying to shake the conditioner down into the neck, after a bad night’s sleep. Then it dawned on me, this is not the book I should be reading right now, if I keep reading this book today I will be sorry. I already knew everyone died and more or less how they did it from reading Testament of Youth, so I had no excuse for my mistake except that there must have been a notion it might help to wallow. I do like Vera’s youthful writing, and it is kind of astonishing how strong and earnest she and Roland come on to each other so soon after they first met, it makes a person love them.

    • Actually, if I were feeling sorry for myself for non-loneliness type reasons (such as sickness), this would be the perfect book for me. I could cry at the book and then not feel self-indulgent for crying when sick. :p

    • Oh, and you know what made me love Vera? Was how important it was to her to find out exactly what had happened to Roland, even though the details must have been painful to learn. That was touching, somehow.

      • I agree! It seemed like a predictor of the the strength of character that let her gather herself up for social and political activism after being pretty much smashed by the war.

  9. My roommate and I concur that Geoffrey Thurlow looks like Ryan Gosling. We even did an image side-by-side comparison.

    Additional note, reading sad books on a plane is something I’ve done once and was kind of weird, because I had to keep closing the book to regain my composure and then I’d open it up again and read some more until my threshold was reached, and then close it again for a while.

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