D.H. Schleicher's Reviews > The War in Our Hearts

The War in Our Hearts by Eva Seyler
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In the WWI set The War in Our Hearts, Eva Seyler weaves an intimately epic tale of Scots in France at the Western Front that’s chock full of family secrets, past trauma, love, loss, misery, and finding hope through tragedy. The ballad of Captain Graham, Lady Estelle, and the orphaned Aveline often reads like the teleplay for a grand 1980’s era miniseries, and I mean that in a good way.

I picked up Seyler’s book because I’ve been on a historical fiction kick and the WWI setting intrigued me. Admittedly, it took me awhile to become comfortable with the style. The writing is a bit old-fashioned and sometimes clunky when not being earnest, and there’s Scottish dialect and many references to old ballads whose melodies I did not know. The novel, however, eventually sprawls into a thrilling, romantic melodrama. I was surprised how much the story grew on me. The chapters are brief and always reference time and place to help keep all the flashbacks in check. This pacing made it a page-turner despite the aforementioned clunky style. The characters, as we learn more about their past traumas and hopes and dreams, become increasingly deep and endearing, rising above cliché, with their trials and tribulations lingering long after you finish reading.

There’s a particularly harrowing climax at an abandoned French farmhouse followed by a heartbreaking epilogue in the Scottish Highlands whose last scene, though focused on another Scottish ballad, will leave readers who have been swept up by the drama with chills. With its flare for poetic melodrama and a love of Scottish ballads, The War in Our Hearts would make a splendid Terence Davies film, a spiritual cousin to his dreamily haunting Sunset Song.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 13, 2019 – Shelved
August 13, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read

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