I only finished reading two books in April. But, what might be lacking in quantity, was definitely made up for in quality, as they were both excellent books.
• Silas Marner, by George Eliot — This is a short, but beautiful novel, with lots of food for thought. I’ve read it before, but this time I read it as part of the Eliot Project. You can read some of my thoughts about it here.
• Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain — Subtitled An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925. The author was a V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse during World War I. The beginning of the book details her struggle to enter Oxford, then moves to her time as a V.A.D., and then to the aftermath of the war and her struggle to find meaning in life after losing all those most dear to her. The author describes the needless suffering caused by war. Sadly, she did not believe in an afterlife, which caused her much pain.
At the beginning of the book, I struggled to follow the meaning of the sentences. The author writes very long sentences, full of parenthetical information. These lessened as the story progressed, however, and overall I think it was very well written. After all, it kept my attention all the way to the end. It is interesting to realize that, as this book was published in 1933, the author (who lived from 1893 – 1970) did not yet know that she would live through a second World War. I doubt it surprised her when it came, however. After the war, she became involved with the League of Nation, doing a lot of speaking for them. She also toured post-war Europe, including Germany. Also interesting, given my recent reading, the author read and mentioned several times the works of George Eliot and recorded a truce story (though I don’t know that it took place during Christmas). Not being familiar with English politics, schools, &c., I didn’t get as much out of some parts of the book as I might have. Despite this, and although I do not agree with all of the author’s conclusions, this book was definitely worthwhile.
Photograph is of Vera Brittain (1893 – 1970) circa 1918. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.