Well, I saved the last for last. This is my final post for the year.
This book is both a drag and a bummer, and falls prey to on the one hand, good writing, but on the other hand unoriginal misogyny (a tidy virgin/whore duology) and cliched anger at women during wartime.
So I should tell, and it probably shows, that I am deeply cynical when it comes to things like patriotism, most wars, and the kind of trite and common understandings and tropes associated with wars. I’ve read a lot of different books about war and while it may very well be a common sentiment about the gratitude owed soldiers, especially by women, when they come home never really tracks with me as a reader. It’s that kind of double bind in which women are not allowed to go to war, and when they do, putting their lives on the line as well for the war effort in lots of different roles, including the deeply traumatizing work of being a nurse, their efforts are erased. And then when men return home, the expectation is that they sat and waited patiently while the men might die, come home a complete wreck, bring home trauma, bring home venereal disease, have zero expectations about their own loyalty. And then to finish all that off, be subject to high rates of domestic abuse. So a novel that plays heavily into those without bringing a sense of irony or distance or solemnity, and worse sort of blames women for all those things. Well, it’s not going to work out great for me on this front.