Kelly Gardiner, 1917 (Australia’s Great War #4), Scholastic Australia, Feb 2017, 272pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781743622506
One hundred years seems only yesterday when we enter the world of Melbourne, Oxford and France through Gardiner’s evocation of life during that terrible year. At the centre of the action is the Robinson family. Alex, mad about aeroplanes, has joined the army, Maggie also joins up – the Women’s Peace Army – while Mum and Dad are protesting against the war.
Real people appear in the novel, such as Madam Melba, the Pankhursts, Billy Hughes, the Red Baron and Cardinal Mannix. Real events happen: protests, riots, food shortages, battles and deaths. The war cost many Australian lives, losses even greater on the Western front than the more familiar Gallipoli battle, and our young need to be reminded of the social turbulence it caused. There are no happy endings to the mayhem of war.
1917 is number 4 in the Australia’s Great War series. It is an absorbing, well written account of a family’s experience, a carefully researched examination of what it was like to live then.
Reviewed by Stella Lees