Can we take a moment and rejoice once again that Ana is back, making everything she reads sound unmissable? She reviewed Letters from a Lost Generation in early November and I read it on the plane back from Thanksgiving with the family. I do not recommend this as a life strategy. I was already sad about leaving home to go back to New York, and (spoilers for World History) EVERYONE IN THIS DAMN BOOK DIES. Except poor Vera. So I was on the plane, nothing to watch on TV, very very sad about no more puppy and no more Vampire Diary marathons with Social Sister, etc., and read this extremely sad book of letters in which EVERYONE DIES.
Basically Vera Brittain was living in England’s green and pleasant land, making plans to have hijinks at Oxford with her brother Edward and her new best friend Roland, and then all of a sudden it became World War I. Edward and Roland went off to war, and Vera wrote letters back and forth with them. She later became a war nurse and began corresponding with two other of Edward’s friends, Geoffrey Thurlow and Victor Nicholson. And (I say again) EVERYONE DIES. First Roland then Geoffrey then Victor then Edward, and poor Vera completely bereft.
In the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t finish the book. I couldn’t take reading the very end where poor Vera, who had already lost her fiance and her two dear close friends, lost her only brother as well. That is too sad. I have three sisters and cannot spare any of them, so I don’t even want to think about having one sibling and losing your only single sibling.
That said, I wasn’t quite as enthralled with this book as Ana was. She compared it to the Browning letters, which set the bar, like, WAY high. (I realize now I’ve never done a proper write-up of my passionate adoration of the Browning letters, but suffice it to say that if Robert Browning and Drew Brees got in a fight in heaven, I would assume Drew Brees was at fault. I promise I will reread the Browning letters in the New Year and rave about them to you then.) Vera and her correspondents were all good writers, and there were parts of the book that were fantastic, like the sections where poor Vera is trying to find out what happened to Roland exactly. But I would have liked a better sense of continuity.
And yes! I do indeed feel unbelievably churlish complaining about a lack of continuity in a book of letters by PEOPLE WHO ALL DIED. But that’s why I didn’t love Letters from a Lost Generation as much as Ana did, or as much as I love the Browning letters (which is infinity).
Random thing: Geoffrey Thurlow looks just like Ryan Gosling. Ryan Gosling would totally play him in the movie, amirite?