How I needed this book! Ann Turnbull’s Alice in love & war is a good old-fashioned historical novel. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s not trying to be clever, or that it’s not got a message, but it’s an uncomplicated and enjoyable book.
It’s the time of the Civil War, which I personally seem to know best through The Three Musketeers, so no doubt I’ve got a somewhat strange idea of who were good or bad. On the other hand, it’s war, and you rarely have very good versus very bad. Both sides are both.
Unreliable charmers are always the same, however. Alice is only sixteen and very unhappy living with an abusive uncle, so it’s hardly surprising that she jumps straight into the arms of the charmer, who happens to be one of the King’s soldiers, passing by with the army. She decides to leave her uncle’s farm, and follow the army. This is a hard life, but she makes friends, and she belatedly learns about men.
There are some extremely horrific details of the war, more effective than any school lesson. Alice is lucky in that she can read and write, and she has some knowledge of healing. This means her fate is more fortunate than those of her best friends among the army followers, but she still goes trough some very bad times.
The way Ann has plotted the story means the reader gets to see both sides of this war, and hopefully will learn both that war is worth avoiding, as well as seeing that warring sides are never black and white.
It’s a lovely romantic story, while avoiding the pitfalls of everything going smoothly all the time.