Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Scotland, 1915. A group of teenagers from two families meet for a picnic, but the war across the Channel is soon to tear them away from such youthful pleasures. All too soon, the horror of what is to become known as The Great War engulfs them, their friends and the whole village. From the horror of the trenches, to the devastating reality seen daily by those nursing the wounded, they struggle to survive - and nothing will ever be the same again.

A powerful and engrossing novel about love and war, from Carnegie Medal-winning author Theresa Breslin.

303 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
356 (32%)
4 stars
453 (41%)
3 stars
211 (19%)
2 stars
62 (5%)
1 star
16 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Olivia.
677 reviews111 followers
June 23, 2017
{4.5 stars}

Loved, loved, loved this! So many emotions and unique characters. And just downright realistic. It was sad, but yet wonderful all at the same time.

I took a half star because I didn't like Maggie's attitude (women's right and all), but thankfully she wasn't as big on it by the end of the book and it added a different POV to the story. I loved the complexities that Francis had with the war and his struggles that were shown in his letters to Maggie. And then that scene with Alex toward the end was so good!!

This book is definitely going to my top favorite reads of 2017 and second favorite WW1 book of all time!

*A couple swear words--surprisingly minimal. Some detailed war scenes. A couple kisses, nothing more.*
Profile Image for Kellyn Roth.
Author 27 books908 followers
June 19, 2017
I think I read this last year or the year before that when doing some research for WW1 ... and I honestly can't remember it all that well, so my rating isn't definite. I think I remember liking it, and yet being made miserable by it. Of course, that was also back when I liked every book I read because I never read books by modern authors, so ... yep.

Yes, I will write an actual review some day ... maybe. :P
Profile Image for Michelle.
780 reviews13 followers
September 28, 2010
This is a book that I would like to own. The story mainly follows the lives of two families with five children, aged 15 to 21 when the story begins. They live in Scotland and all deal with World War I in vastly different ways. The book begins by focusing on two of the five, then switching over to a different two, then adding two more, and finishing with a focus on four of the original five. So, you read firsthand opinions of all of them. There are references to many works of literature and art that existed during and before that time period.

Many different aspects of the book fascinated me: the change in the role of women due to WWI; the two sides of patriotism, one which I had never deeply considered before; the social mores of the time; and other information about WWI. I feel that I have been very educated on WWII, and I have read many real and fictional accounts of people during that time period, but this may be the first I have read about WWI. And I am very glad to have read this account.

The book is clean, heart wrenching, and consuming.

It began with this quote from Siegfried Sasson, who wrote "Suicide in the Trenches."

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

It ends with this quote by the same author, but from "Aftermath."

Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads—those ashen grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet? . . .
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

The book begins in 1915 and ends in 1918.
Profile Image for DubaiReader.
782 reviews28 followers
March 26, 2010
I was completely bowled over by the Audio version of this book (sadly, abridged).
It was so tastefully written and so beautifully read by Frances Thorburn and Gary Bakewell. I shall definitely keep this to listen to again and intend to read the full written version at some time too.

The five main characters are aged bewteen 14 and 23 at the time of WWI, The Great War. We meet them as the guns of war are starting to be heard over the chanel, yet picnics on a sunny day are still a glorious option.
All five react differently to the impending changes, Francis rejects war as a solution, arguing comprehensively against the whole idea, yet ultimately under pressure to make the ultimate sacrifice. His sister Charlotte, and her friend, Maggie, take the opportunity to leave the confines of traditional women's roles to help with the injured, while Maggie's brothers, Alex and John Malcom, are desperate to fight alongside the other boys of the village in the support of a just cause.
Within this range of five characters is woven an extensive range of view points and responses to the war, add to this the trauma of the parents left behind and the whole becomes beautifully evocative of the effects of war on a small village.
It was startling how little folks back home knew about what was really going on and how wasteful and tragic the whole exercise was. Of course we are familiar with all this now but it doesn't hurt to be reminded from time to time.

I'll admit, it made me cry, always a sign of a good book!
Highly recommended.

Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
3,100 reviews1,484 followers
November 8, 2013
This is a powerful novel of how WWI affects two families, one upper class and one working class. Young men dream of war and of peace; two young women must figure out whether their destinies lie with the traditions of their families or somewhere greater. Though this book was sad, I really liked the coming-of-age stories of the two young women and the honest portrayal of war.
Profile Image for Kirsty.
2,703 reviews175 followers
February 16, 2018
Remembrance is written by Carnegie Medal-winning author Theresa Breslin, who has rather a lot of titles to her name. Its story is centered around the First World War, beginning as it does in the summer of 1915 and spanning the remainder of the conflict. The premise is that in a small Scottish village named Stratharden, the Great War ‘is to alter the course of five young lives for ever’.

A group of teenagers, all of whom live within the village, are brought together at a picnic and become firm friends ‘despite their social differences’. Charlotte Armstrong-Barnes, effectively the protagonist of the novel, has just joined the Red Cross, much to the disdain of her traditional mother, who thinks that organising charity events is far more fitting for a girl of Charlotte’s class and standing. Charlotte’s brother Francis, seven years her senior, and perhaps the most interesting character in Remembrance, believes that patriotism is ‘the one thing that can unite people. It takes priority over religious differences, or class, or money, or social position’. He flatly refuses to join the Army like many young men of his age, preferring instead to focus his efforts upon sketching and helping to manage the family estate.

The Armstrong-Barnes’ invite the three Dundas siblings, children of a local shopkeeper, to a picnic which they decide to host on Bank Holiday Monday – twins Maggie and John Malcolm, and their younger brother Alex. Alex, despite being only fourteen, has grand ideas about joining up when he is of age to, and John Malcolm is also intent upon doing his bit. Breslin’s characters have all been fleshed out well – not to the extent that they are vivid in terms of their appearances, but with regard to their personalities and dreams. She demonstrates the way in which the lives of her characters – and the lives of those around them – are impacted by the war. There are changes in careers, and dreams built for a different and peaceful future shelved indefinitely, not to mention loss, grief and death. The irrevocable change which the war brought with it has been deftly considered. Breslin also takes into account the way in which naivety and innocence can be applied to wartime situations, and how such elements can so easily be lost.

Breslin has taken a lot of wartime-related themes into account in her novel, and addresses such elements as patriotism, franchise, equality and the futility of war. Pacifism, and what it means within the wider community, has also been addressed. The third person perspective which she has adopted works well with the unfolding story. Interesting and sometimes conflicting viewpoints have often been taken into account, and this forms perhaps the strongest element of the novel. Remembrance is a well plotted and engaging novel, which is about courage and friendship above all else, and which is certainly a worthy addition to First World War literature.
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
755 reviews206 followers
June 29, 2013
Quite honestly, I had not heard of Theresa Breslin and I hadn't read any of the reviews of Remembrance before I read it. So, it was a bit of an unexpected read when I noticed this is a YA novel. However, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book about a group of teenagers who are thrown into the insanity of the First World War.

Had I read this as a kid, I probably would have enjoyed it more, and could have ignored the contrived storylines that obviously contained every imaginable conflict that society went through in the course of the war.
In short, this obviously is a book that aims to educate young readers about the historical facts. It also tries to convey a plethora of ideas and issues to young readers - from emancipation to pacifism. The only problem I had with the book is that it tries a little too hard at times.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
77 reviews
March 4, 2020
This was so good! The beginning was a little slow and at first I was a tiny bit worried that perhaps it wouldn't be as good as I hoped. But the writing style was lovely throughout, and the plot/tension built slowly and steadily over the course of the story. I enjoyed each of the characters, although Francis was my favorite, followed by Alex and Charlotte. Francis' letters and Charlotte's experiences as a nurse show the ugliness and reality of war in a way that is poignantly realistic, yet without ever going into unnecessary or gruesome detail. I enjoyed this book very much, and I feel like it will only improve upon rereading! I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys well-written historical fiction, World War I history, and coming-of-age stories.
Profile Image for CLM.
2,695 reviews184 followers
July 7, 2009
I enjoyed this World War I story, following five members of a Scottish village through their wartime travails, but felt it could have had more substance. It was not as memorable as K.M. Peyton or Vera Brittain or Ruth Elwin Harris, to name some of my favorites. However, I am surprised Breslin has not written a sequel.
30 reviews
September 4, 2018
This book was a lovely and memorable book to read, and I would recommend it to ages 12 and above. I loved this book because of all the realism of the 1st world war that you get to read about. As you follow the lives of 5 young people during the war, you come to realise that it wasn't just the soldiers that saw the realism, but the nurses serving in the hospitals as well and how it changed the way they lived, talked, and thought about the world after the war.
1,091 reviews3 followers
March 20, 2019
Set during World War I, Remembrance is a fantastic historical fiction book. It portrays the excitement, horror, and heartbreak of war in an honest way through narration as well as letters between the characters. It is so incredibly well-written. The writing evokes many emotions and transports the reader to the 19-teens. I very highly recommend this book to young teens and up who are learning about World War I.
Profile Image for Emelia.
205 reviews
November 9, 2020
I applaud this book for it's varied portrayal of the war and the fact it was simply a story about the war. I have marked it down by one star, purely because of my personal reading interest. It just wasn't exciting enough that's all.
Profile Image for Linley.
502 reviews6 followers
March 27, 2017
World War 1 through the eyes of teens who went with optimism and returned with a very different view. This book brings home to the reader just how much was lost by so many and how radical changes came to women's working lives.

Recommended to Y9-13 (ages 13-18) waning to read more of historical world events.
Profile Image for Megan  (thebookishtwins).
536 reviews173 followers
February 12, 2016
Actual Rating - 3.5 stars

I received this free from the publishers via NetGalley

Charlotte knew that in times like this there was no difference in class or wealth or religion or race; that people cried, and wept, and broke with sorrow - in Britain and in France, in Belgium and Russian, and in Germany too.

Remembrance follows the lives of four teenagers. Francis, a pacifist who opposes the war. Charlotte and Maggie, two young nurses who tend to the wounded, wanting to help and find themselves. John, who wishes to do his duty and Alex, who is driven by revenge. The Great War changed their lives. The war caused them to have their youth and innocence taken away from them when they were forced, or felt a need, to partake in the war. From the munitions factories, to the hospitals, and right o the front line we follow the lives of these teenagers fight for survival.

I am a huge fan of History and Historical Fiction, so I was really looking forward to reading this. I was a little disappointed, but I can't really say why. I liked some of the issues which were talked about in this book, such as those who opposed the war, shell shock, about women's role in the war and in society in general and how some women felt when it came to work. It talks about the unity between people, despite class and race. It shows that they were all experiencing the same devastations, such as losing their loved ones. I loved the writing and I thought it made for easy reading. I felt like the plot, however, was a little slow and it didn't hold my attention for very long. I much preferred reading from the girls story, rather than the boys. I just found it far more interesting.

I liked the characters. I think the best thing in this book was the character development. I liked that Maggie was unsure of what she wanted, but knew that it was out of the home and her father's store. She wanted to make her own choices and dictate her own future. She didn't want to be controlled by her family. She wanted and adventure and a life that would make her happy. She was a strong character, but she had her weaknesses and that make her all the more realistic and relatable. She really cared for her friends and family. I really admired that I think she was my favourite characters in Remembrance. Charlotte was another favourite. Despite her privileged background, she wanted to do more for the war effort. She wanted to help people. It was what she did best. I liked John. He seemed like a very nice guy, it was a shame to end he came to. Francis and Alex didn't really impact me that much, they were just ok characters for me.

The romance was nice. It seemed real. It was a sub-plot to the story. It showed that during a time of war, people hold on to the little bit of happiness they have left. They need each other to keep each other sane and keep their spirits up.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read. If you enjoy historical fiction then I also suggest you give this one a go.
41 reviews2 followers
April 16, 2014
[Review first posted at Quite Spectacular]

The year is 1915 and the war has already gone on longer than predicted. Two sets of siblings become friends in the unlikeliest circumstances just before the realities of the war begin to permeate their lives. Focusing on the fighting and life back home, the story follows the friends through the thick of it and the aftermath.

Remembrance was stirring, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking. I rarely read anything about World War I - the last being The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn - but this is definitely the most realistic and moving WWI novel I've come across. There's so much packed into it but it is all handled with such delicate sensitivity that you can't help but become absorbed.

I loved all of the characters. Each and every one of them just got to me. I loved Charlotte for her compassion and steadfastness; Maggie for her courage and fire; John Malcolm for his patriotism and bravery; Alex for his loyalty; and Francis for his heart. They all just seemed so real, which further enhanced the horrors they encountered.

Many themes were covered in Remembrance. The changing role of women in society was handled well, as seen through the eyes of Charlotte and Maggie as they threw themselves into work that previously would have been frowned upon. The breaking down of class boundaries was shown through the relationships - both romantic and platonic - between the friends and their families. Pacifism was handled extremely well through Francis's story and his thoughts on Just War theory (which I haven't encountered since my final year of university!). Patriotism and duty was explored through the actions of all characters, from Charlotte signing up to be a nurse, to John Malcolm and Alex's eagerness to enlist and defend their country. Also, poignantly, through the deaths of the soldiers nursed by Charlotte who wanted to know if they had fought the good fight. Finally, the shrinking world in terms of borders and other nationalities, with the diverse allied force comprised of soldiers from a number of countries - from India to Canada.

The pacing of the novel was beautifully executed, with each year of the war split off into different parts. This helped keep things as clear as possible because there was a great deal of information to digest and it might have been overwhelming without the parts. I loved the use of letters, particularly John Malcolm's letters home and Maggie's letters to Francis.

Overall, Remembrance was a wonderfully crafted novel. It is the perfect novel to read as a companion to this year's First World War Centenary programming and events.
Profile Image for Janet.
548 reviews6 followers
August 2, 2011
I’ve not read anything by this author before, but I was drawn to this book because of my interest in reading novels about World War 1. It felt familiar, like I’d read about it before somewhere. It turns out that I had it on my Amazon Wishlist - I must have added it at least 3 years ago! (I bought it in a charity shop and it was in the adult section - the cover, whilst pretty, doesn't make it look like a childrens book).

As I started reading this book, I was rather surprised by the tone of it. It felt almost like the author was being patronising which seemed strange… until I noticed on the back that it’s a children’s book! That made more sense and I was then able to settle down to enjoy the story, knowing it was not written with me in mind as target audience and that the tone is perfectly correct for readers of about 10 or so!

It tells the story of five people on the brink of adulthood, all of whom are affected by the War. The story starts in 1915 and moves through the years to the end of the war, and is set both in Scotland and on the battlefields of France.

It not only deals with the war but also with those left behind. Particularly interesting is the way the author writes about women, and how they gained a certain amount of independence which they had never known before. She also deals with the question of pacifism and how this affected families, and how social barriers were changing, again, as a result of the war.

When writing about the horrors of war, the author deals with it in a way which is indicative of how it really was without being too graphic, being sensitive to her target audience. At the same time, the story isn’t all happy endings so it is realistic. I asked my children about this book and it wasn’t used in their primary school, but I would have thought this was an excellent book for introducing years 5 and 6 to WW1. I thought it was very good.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,469 reviews351 followers
April 11, 2022
Although I know a fair amount about it, I haven't read many books about the First World War. I think the Second World War was so big that most of the stories tend to be set there, which is a real shame because the First World War was just as horrific and just as important. Remembrance covers lots of things, from women finding their feet in this new era to post traumatic stress disorder, something that wasn't known about at the time.

There's a few characters that get a voice in this story. The main two are Charlotte and Maggie, two residents of a village with very different lives. When the war begins and their brothers are sent to France, Charlotte decides to start nursing and Maggie works in a munitions factory. This is a short book but I was still disappointed to find that there was only a brief description of the work they were doing and then it wasn't mentioned again unless necessary.

For me, the best parts of the story were Francis and Maggie's letters to each other. Francis was easily the most developed character throughout the story and the war changed him a lot, which I could see though his letters. I really hoped that he'd be able to get back home to his family and Maggie.

As historical books go, I do recommend this. The descriptions of the battlefield and trenches were very descriptive and will stick with me for a long time after that. I also appreciated that the history was woven into the story, as some books do tend to veer towards a history lesson instead of a story.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
670 reviews82 followers
March 8, 2013
Even though the writing was good and solid, this book was kind of "blah" to me. Was definitely left with a deep impression of how much life was lost during the World War I era and how pointless that war seemed. I will say that the author did a great job creating a high degree of authenticity (you can tell she did a lot of research). Other than that, the book didn't seem to really resolve a lot of issues or make any important points. Seemed like something was missing...but not sure what it was.
Profile Image for Trishelle  Lin.
90 reviews26 followers
September 24, 2009
I found it hard for me to get into this book and I found the feminist outlook shown through it rather annoying. However I did enjoy the story of the characters and of their growth. Although I liked him I was glad John Malcolm died. I also loved Francis and Maggie's romance through their letters.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Despina.
90 reviews26 followers
July 21, 2019
2019 ONTD Reading Challenge
JUNE - My Friend With a Bike: Read a book about a friendship (or where friendship is a main theme).

Well researched and excellently written take on the drama of WW1 from the perspective of a group of young friends living in Scotland.
Profile Image for Missy Cahill.
470 reviews21 followers
May 2, 2011
Meh, didn't really grab me at all. I found it a bit of a trek to read. Wouldn't be my cup of tea now.
Profile Image for Missy Cahill.
470 reviews21 followers
August 8, 2011
Sadly didnt love this book as much as I wanted to. I didn't find any of the characters pleasant or interesting in the slightest. Meh.
Profile Image for Nati.
276 reviews
March 7, 2015
I can't believe how long it took me to read the 303 pages of this book..it was amazing though. definitely recommend to everyone.
Profile Image for Monica Caldicott.
1,147 reviews6 followers
May 1, 2020
When World War I doesn’t end conveniently at Christmas 1914, as everyone had hoped and expected, its growing costs and hunger for young British men starts to eat away at the Brits, especially 2 families in a small town. 

John Malcolm and his twin sister Maggie view the war in very different ways: John Malcolm is anxious to join up. 
He says in a letter. Read back of book. 

Maggie views it as a chance to get away from her boring home and see something and learn about the world. She begins to read the newspaper each day and goes to work in a munitions factory making bombs. In another family nearby, there also are conflicting opinions of the war. 

Francis objects to the war on moral grounds. 

Read p. 88, “This cause is not just… little gain.”

His sister Charlotte, however, becomes a nurse, in part to show that someone in their family is working for the war cause and partly because her love for John Malcolm. 

The war years are very tough on these families and they spend much time in remembrance of the good things – home, family and friendship and love.
182 reviews
May 22, 2022
I read this after taking Sue Fox's class on the literature of the Great War. It was written in 2002, but it focuses on the fate of two Scottish families during 1914-1920. One family are merchants and the other is the wealthy gentry in the town. John Malcolm, the older son of the merchant family cannot wait to join his comrades in the war. He is quickly killed. Charlotte, the daughter of the wealthy family, loved him. Her brother Francis does not want to fight--feels it is hopeless. But he eventually goes and Charlotte becomes a respected nurse. Maggie, the daughter in the merchant family carries on a lengthy correspondence with Francis while he is at the front, and she is able to understand and respond to his despondency. Finally, Alex, John Malcolm and Maggie's younger brother, lies and join the troops headed to France. All assume he has died.

It's a good story, not great. Having also read All Quiet on the Western Front, it sort of pales in comparison.
Profile Image for Liesl.
284 reviews
January 28, 2019
I absolutely loved this book growing up, so it was interesting coming back and rereading it. I doubt if I had read it now for the first time, it would have been so high on my favourites list. The characters aren't the best developed and feel a bit like stock WW1 characters: the conscientious objector, the nurse, the munitions worker. The story is also fairly slow-moving too, with only a handful of major plot moments.
But for getting students interested in the history of WW1? Fantastic. Theresa Breslin has obviously done her research and there are so many small details in here which make you want to go away and read up on the history. She covers most of the main events and social history elements of WW1 so subtly that students probably won't realise just how much history they're taking in.
593 reviews7 followers
June 4, 2018
This book started as a rather typical 3-star story of World War I. But as it progressed, I liked it more and more. The setting is a rather small Scottish village and the plot revolves around two families, one wealthy and aristocratic and the other struggling with a shop in the town. Both send their sons to war and in the end realize that bullets and poison gas and the horrors of war do not recognize privilege. Much of the story is told through letters written by the wealthy son to the daughter of the shopkeeper. They both recognize the futility of a war that kills millions of young men (boys), but nonetheless do what they can to serve.
632 reviews
March 3, 2019
This was a truly lovely book -- recommended for fans of Downton Abbey. Set in WWI Scotland, and focused on two families in the town, one the gentry, the other a working class family. Francis is opposed to the war but his conscience sends him to fight anyway, while his sister's beau, John Malcolm, is enthusiastic about enlisting. When John is killed, Charlotte turns to nursing, as does her friend, Maggie, who had a budding relationship with Francis. Vivid descriptions of the front juxtapose with those of the hospital, all in beautiful prose. Just a little slow in the middle, but still to be highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, especially WWI.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.