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The Great Silence
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Group Reads Archive > May 2012 - The Great Silence by Juliet Nicholson

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Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1383 comments Mod
Welcome to the May non-fiction group read. Please use this thread to discuss your reading of...

The Great Silence by Juliet NicolsonThe Great Silence by Juliet Nicolson Juliet Nicolson

Enjoy!


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 206 comments Ally.....I read this book last year It is a moving look at the two years immediately following the Great War and truly affected me in its poignancy. The author, who has impeccable literary and political credentials, has done a magnificent job in presenting the unimaginable grief and struggle for understanding that gripped Britain as an entire generation was wiped out in the muddy trenches. She examines the sorrow of all classes of the population, from the aristocracy to the shop keeper, as they individually and collectively attempted to recover from the horror of their losses. Her description of the return of the Unknown Soldier from the fields of France to the burial in Westminster Abbey will move the reader to tears (or at least this reader). This is a beautiful book and the frontispiece of the famous painting "Grief" by Hugh Cecil puts it all in perspective.


message 3: by Ally (last edited May 02, 2012 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1383 comments Mod
My copy arrived today - I've jumped right in and read the introduction already! - It's a great concept for a book and she talks about telling her story from the perspectives of...

"...a soldier, an undergraduate, a bohemian, a newly married socialite, a Duke, a cook, an artist, a surgeon, a war hero, a ten year old boy, a four year old girl, a butler, a dress designer and the Queen..."

...Phew that's a good list!

I'm looking forward to this one.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 206 comments Trust me, you will like it and be very moved.


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1383 comments Mod
The stories of facial plastic surgery and the sculpted tin masks was heartbreaking. You forget just how far medicine has come in the last 100 years and how much these returning soldiers went through.

I also have to say that I've never quite appreciated how inadequate mental health care was and also how little compensation was paid.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 206 comments The mutilation suffered by the surviving soldiers was horrifying and many suffered from what was called in that day, "shell shock". As you noted,there was not much medical/mental health available for them and they carried those injuries throughout their lives. It is very tragic.


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1383 comments Mod
I am loving this book. I'm especially loving all of the little explanations of things that are now just a part of modern life such as how the Cenotaph started life in wood and plaster as a temporary structure for a summer parade but was then cast in stone and the origins of the two minute silence observed every year on 11th November at 11am. I also liked the story of how Evelyn Waugh - a 16 yr old teen - opposed the idea of a silence on the basis that people should always be thinking of lost loved ones. The idea of such scenes of jolity as happened when peace was announced hadn't sat well with a lot of people - the bittersweetness has certainly been captured here.


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1383 comments Mod
I just finished this one this afternoon. I liked it a lot but it didn't blow me away. Towards the end I did get a little bored. I liked the way that the author used a smattering of 'ordinary folk' alongside the experiences of the rich to illustrate the time period, and to be fair I think the majority of accounts available for research will be from the upper classes. Overall it was well worth a read...and yes, I did shed a tear or two at the end with the burial of the unknown soldier having now understood the gaping hole that the simple ceremony filled in the hearts of millions.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) | 206 comments Glad you enjoyed it.......I certainly did.


message 10: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy | 39 comments I found this was an excellent complement to my previous knowledge of the war. The extra tidbits from all levels of society were interesting, but I found it hard to keep track of everyone she was introducing!

I cried at the end too :s


message 11: by Ally (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1383 comments Mod
Yes - there were a lot of different people mentioned and events seen from so many different perceptions. It was a lot to keep up with.


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