Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Woman’s War (A Mother’s Home front Battle)

Told through the eyes of Rosie, A Woman’s War explores the harsh realities she endures and the array of emotions she experiences from the home front, while her twin sons are away fighting in the War (1914-1918). It is set in working class Collingwood, against a background of historical events. Beginning with the declaration of the war, the novel reveals Rosie’s reactions to the fast paced announcements and her sons enlisting at the end of 1915. During the following years, Rosie is one of many women who come together to help each other and Australia through these unprecedented times.

Rosie, is indicative of women, who for four long years helplessly witness their husbands, boyfriends, brothers and even fathers swayed by the relentless pull of ‘mateship’ to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The novels demonstrates how women, like Rosie who is only in her mid to late thirties, attempt to maintain home and industry, contribute to the war effort, and sustain relationships with men who have embarked. 

The reader is provided with an insight into the horror of trench warfare and air battles principally by means of the heart-rending and graphic letters Albert, one of Rosie’s sons, writes from The Western Front (France) during 1916 and 1917. Letters from other men to women complement the central theme of communication between Albert and Rosie.

The novel focuses particularly on two events—the Battle of Pozières, where Australians suffer their greatest casualty rate, and the battle of Messine Ridge, where miners take on the unthinkable task of tunnelling under the German trenches and blowing them up from underground. Albert, after witnessing the death of his twin brother Tom at Pozières, escapes the depressing, disease-ridden and muddy trenches and transfers to the air force, witnessing the Messine Ridge explosion from the sky.

A Woman’s War concludes with Albert receiving belated news that he has fathered a baby in Scotland and Rosie nursing Albert of his post war injuries. Germany has surrendered—the war is over, but while her son’s fate is fickle, Rosie knows that the devastation and repercussions of this event will be something with which she will continue to battle.

Jacqueline and John Dinan

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