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Edith's War by Andrew Smith

Edith's War

by Andrew Smith

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1241,175,786 (4.5)None
A novel based on historical fact that tells a heart-wrenching, yet ultimately heart-warming, story of love, passion, and motherhood during World War II. When Edith Maguire is caught up in the tribulations of Italian neighbors following Britain's internment policy of 1940, her life seems to be transformed. The intricacies of familial relations are brilliantly illuminated in this innovative work.… (more)



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Typically I have had some issues with most historical fiction, mainly because many novels tend to take some facts and then proceed to play loose with the details. I like the facts, the setting, and the mood to all be as historically accurate as possible and reflect the period without putting a modern spin on it based on our current sensibilities. Edith's War manages to fulfill my requirements beautifully. Andrew Smith did his research and, much to my delight, kept a real sense of time and place throughout Edith's War. This was even more apparent because the chapters flip back and forth through time.

The novel opens in 2002 with Edith's two adult sons, Will and Shamus (61 and 56), in Venice, spending a day together before the arrival of their 83 year old mother, Edith. Alternate chapter are set during WWII, starting in 1940, when Edith Maguire was a young war bride, pregnant and living with her mother-in-law by Liverpool. The chapters with Will and Shamus stand in sharp contrast to the chapters with Edith during the war. Will and Shamus relate to each other like real adult siblings do - they disagree, react to each other in a well defined way, and have long-held roles and resentments, while at the same time they are comfortable with each other and begin dredging up memories of the past. Between the brothers, we are privy to Shamus' inner thoughts and know his inner turmoil, especially coming to terms with the recent death of his long time life partner, Luke, while we have to wait to gain a greater understanding of Will.

Edith's story is more straightforward. We immediately see her developing relationships with her mother-in-law, teenage brother-in-law, Liam, and members of the Baccanello family during WWII. We know about her immediate attraction to Carlos. It is from her friendship and love of the Baccanello family that we view the tragedy of the internment of British Italians and the devastating effect it has on the family and Edith. As we slowly learn about Edith's experiences during the war, we follow the brother's interaction and slowly learn the details of their memories. Although I think most readers are going to guess right away where the story is heading, it is a very satisfying book.

Lately I've been trying to not compare books from two different authors, but two books read back to back and basically set during the same time period beg for some comparison. If you want a very quick, light treatment of the internment of the Jews, the biggest trial to be restricted membership to golf courses, don't care about historical accuracy (as much as I do), and need some whimsy, Read Mr. Rosenblum. If you like a more serious, realistic look at internment during WWII, and appreciate an exploration of family dynamics, read Edith's War. Highly Recommended (4.5); http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/

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  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
I thought Smith did a good job of showing what life was like during the war. I enjoyed the historical aspects more than the relationships but I'm sure the opposite would be true for others. Full review: http://www.canadianauthors.net/s/smith_andrew/ediths_war.php ( )
  ripleyy | Aug 10, 2010 |
Disclosure: Andrew Smith is a client of mine. However, as a serious reader and a PR person with perhaps too many scruples, I wouldn't have agreed to work with him if I hadn't liked his novel! Hope you get a chance to read it. Book is available from www.amazon.com (http://ow.ly/1Kn14), www.chapters.indigo.ca (http://ow.ly/1Kn32) and @indiepride (http://ow.ly/26SOu). If you prefer the eBook, try Smashwords: (http://ow.ly/21S76). ( )
  ruthseeley | Jul 4, 2010 |
Edith’s War – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

“You know,” said Anna. “We all think we’re so clever. I know I used to be too proud. I had a good husband, three handsome boys who speak English and get along so good at school. Three fish and chip shops, a nice house – I thought I have it made. And the bang, suddenly it all disappeared. When a war happens, it shows you we don’t know nothing. War or no war, we’re all like leaves being blown around. No matter how much we think we’re the boss, we’re not.”

Edith’s War takes place not far from Liverpool in a town called Shrimpley. The time is the beginning of World War II.

Shortly after their marriage, Edith Maguire’s husband Joe must leave to help fight the war. Edith, being pregnant with their first child, leaves Liverpool to stay with her mother-in-law and brother-in-law in Shrimpley. There she meets Anna and Gianni Baccanello, along with their 3 sons, Paolo, Domenico and Carlo.

When Edith moved in with her in-laws she was a naive young lady. What she experienced during the 4 years that Joe was away, changed her completely. But more changes were in store for her when Joe comes home and her second son is born.

Edith’s War was created with fictional characters surviving real history. It’s written in two periods of time. One time period takes you through the trials of surviving as a wife and mother in the 1940s during WWII while your husband is away fighting a war that no one understands. The second time period takes place over sixty years after WWII in the 2000s when Edith, her two sons Will and Shamus and Edith’s secrets from the past all meet up in Italy.

Edith’s War is a love/hate book that tore me between characters. I could understand, yet not understand the events that took place. I could approve of, yet disapprove of the feelings felt by the characters. When you put together the story, the circumstances and the history revealed in Edith’s War, you can’t help but feel the feelings of each character as they struggle to survive. As I read this book I had another book come to mind. I know the stories are totally different but the style of Andrew Smith’s writing reminded me of Nicholas Spark’s writing “The Notebook.” This is a very well written book and a very engrossing read. You can't help but love it.

Axiom Publishing, Inc.
375 Pages
ISBN #978-0-9864962-0-2 ( )
  marthacheves | Jun 25, 2010 |
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