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Thursday 2 July 2015

If You Go Away by Adele Parks

If You Go Away

‘If You Go Away’ is a rich slice of life set during the First World War. Starting just before war breaks out, the story takes us on a journey with Vivian Foster who, faced with disgrace and social oblivion, ends up marrying Aubrey, a man she doesn’t love. In many ways, the outbreak of war and Aubrey’s entry into military service comes as a relief to both of them.

Meanwhile Howard Henderson, a playwright, has already seen war alongside a journalist friend who is covering events from the front. Howard decides that war isn’t for him and becomes a conscientious objector.

Told partly from Vivian’s point of view and partly from Howard’s we follow the story of how their paths cross and, as a consequence, life is changed utterly for both of them.

This is a tale of love and war, but also of honour and guilt. When the beauty and tenderness of love come up against the brutality and confusion of war can there be any winners? And what does it even mean to win?

Vivian is a compelling character. When we first meet her, she is barely more than a child. But, as a debutante, she knows her duty – to bag a husband. She is wilful, rash and reckless and as a result of this ruins her chances. This might have been the end of her story in different circumstances, but it is the coming of war, and becoming a mother herself, that brings about great change in Vivian and turns her into the sort of character that readers won’t be able to help rooting for.

Given the nature of war, some parts of this book are a difficult and painful read, but the love that shines through makes the read captivating and ultimately uplifting.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.