This 1902 novel about British soldiers in foreign lands is about as melodramatic and clearly pre-WWI as one could imagine. One way to look at this book, I guess the way it’s intended, is that Harry Feversham, on the eve of sailing to Sudan in the 1880s to war, resigns his commission and returns home. He meets up with his fiancé and while there receives a package, three white feathers which stand for accusations of cowardice. When she learns of what Harry has done, she goes and finds a fourth white feather, gives it him, and then breaks off the engagement. A year or two passes and the fiancé has becomes newly engaged to another soldier, and Harry has apparently disappeared. He’s spotting in Sudan, and the fiancé slowly hears about his brave adventures making up to those men who accused him with acts of bravery. So what about her???
Another way to look at it: British soldier decides not to go to fight asymmetric warfare against a colonial force, sparing his life, but also the life of untold numbers of oppressed people. His fiancé, apparently a right-wing Nationalist, decides to break it off with him…..but then he decides to go kill a bunch of oppressed people instead. Making her own land in Ireland is just a nice touch.
This is not a particular fondly thought of novel, but it’s one of those books that really ardently sells the colonial and Pax Britannia myths of empire. So good for it I guess.