The Flowers of the Field, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The superb, bestselling novel of one family, and the devastating changes brought by the First World War.Thea Tennant, eldest daughter of a wealthy industrialist father and beautiful aristocratic mother, yearns to do more than follow the traditional path laid out for her.

When her beautiful but flighty sister Dulcie brings trouble to the family, both Thea and Dulcie are sent to relatives in Austria.

But with the onset of War, their lives change beyond recognition.

It isn't just the Tennants whose lives have changed: for their parlourmaid, Primmy, the War brings opportunities she is determined to take.From the Kent countryside to the suffragette movement in London and the horrors of the Western Front, THE FLOWERS OF THE FIELD is an epic novel of the dreams and aspirations of a generation who found a voice above history's most horrifying conflict.


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A stonking family saga set during the First World War, prettily repackaged in time for the 100th anniversary this year. I must admit, I fell for the pretty cover and didn't really check the publication date, but mostly enjoyed the epic story and extended cast of characters anyway. Younger sister Dulcie, of the 'charm and style', 'optimism and <i>joie de vivre</i>', was irritating and wholly unconvincing, especially in Paris, but long-suffering Thea (whose name continually morphed into 'they' and 'there' while reading), blustering Ralph and the quietly determined Maurice, made up for her forced personality. In fact, Thea and Dulcie reminded me of a very un-Austen like Elinor and Marianne - or, keeping everything on a level, Beatrice and Evangeline, from the <i>House of Eliott</i>! In any novel about the war, however, the characters are only really there to bring the very real suffering and grief to life for the reader, and the soap opera subplots must necessarily take second place. Harrison describes the horrors of fighting and nursing on the Front with vivid yet poignant clarity, balancing the violence and gore with human fears and despair. <i>'Ghosts, all ghosts, who had started out as men with some notion of patriotism, however paltry and misguided, but had now crossed to the other side where there wasn't a single thing for a fellow to hang on to.'</i>I really felt for all the characters - apart from Dulcie - and even though most of the developments were telegraphed early, and all the happy endings unlikely, I gladly suffered the wrist strain - from reading an actual book - and hours lost to survive the war with them.

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