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Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful (2003)

by Michael Morpurgo

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Adapted from the book jacket: Private Thomas Peaceful has lied about his age and left his family behind to follow his older brother, Charlie, to France to fight in the First World War. Now, Tommo has one almost unendurable night, alone, fighting sleep, to reflect on his life. As the minutes slowly tick by, his memories are full of his childhood in the English countryside. His father, mother, brothers, and first love, Molly, come vividly alive in his mind. But every moment Tommo spends thinking about his life means another moment closer to something he cannot bear to think about – a time when the war and its horrific consequences will change his life forever.

My Reactions
This is a gut-wrenching tale of brotherhood, loyalty, duty, love, courage and forgiveness. I loved the close bond between the brothers, both Tommo and Charlie, but also their brain-damaged brother Big Joe. I applauded their mother’s moral courage in the face of adversity. I felt uncomfortable with the actions of the Colonel, but recognized the British class system at work in the early 20th century. (Thank you, Downton Abbey.) This is not the first book about World War I that I have read, so I was familiar with the horrors of trench warfare and the brutal realities of a long siege, but I still cringed with fear and anxiety as I read about these young men (hardly older than boys) and what they faced. My heart about broke for Tommo and Charlie; I certainly didn’t see that end coming.

I was very glad that Morpurgo added a Postscript and Author’s Note explaining some of the realities of this period in history and how the governments of Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the United States had such different responses to the soldiers who suffered psychological trauma on the battlefields.

This is the third novel I’ve read by Morpurgo, after War Horse (also set in WWI), and An Elephant in the Garden (Dresden, during WW2). My reaction to the former was lukewarm, but I loved the latter. Private Peaceful is closer to “elephant” than “horse.”
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
This is a novel of two halves. The first half covers the lives of the young Peaceful brothers in pre-First World War Devon (the author revealed in an afterword that there really was a family of brothers surnamed Peacefull (sic) who fought and in some cases died in the war). The second half is about the experiences of Charlie and Tommo at the front. Much of the narrative is quite matter of fact in its descriptions of what they are going through, while still giving a good feel for the hardships of serving in the trenches. The last chapter is extremely moving and tragic. A good read. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 13, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this short novel about a soldier in the first world war. The truth is this, it's a spoiler so look away now! he has a brother who is about to be shot for insubordination. Of course, the brother did nothing wrong, in fact did the army a favor. Instead he was shot. The younger brother tells us a moving tale of his childhood, mixed with the hardness of the war. Definitely worth a read. ( )
  Rosenstern | Mar 12, 2015 |
I re-read this book because I think it is absolutely stunning! So emotional and quite fitting as it is 100 years from WW1... ( )
  KatherineB729 | Jan 16, 2015 |
  mrsforrest | Oct 15, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Morpurgoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Meek, ElinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my dear godmother, Mary Niven
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They've gone now, and I'm alone at last.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439636531, Mass Market Paperback)

From the Children's Laureate of England, a stunning novel of the First World War, a boy who is on its front lines, and a childhood remembered. Includes After Words bonus features.

As the enemy lurks in the darkness, Thomas struggles to stay awake through the night. He has lived through the terror of gas attacks and watched friends die by his side. But in the morning, Thomas will be forced to confront an even greater horror.
As the minutes tick by, Thomas remembers his childhood spent deep in the countryside with his mother, his brothers, and Molly, the love of his life. But each minute that passes brings Thomas closer to something he can't bear to to think about--the moment when the war and its horrific consequences will change his life forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:41 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When Thomas Peaceful's older brother is forced to join the British Army, Thomas decides to sign up as well, although he is only fourteen years old, to prove himself to his country, his family, his childhood love, Molly, and himself.

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