J. Cameron Smith

This is the second instalment in the `French Letters’ trilogy, and is written from the perspective of Will Hastings, a young army doctor on the battlefields of France in World War II. Will Hastings arrives in France during the D Day landings and finds himself torn between saving lives — military and civilian — and trying to find out about the death of his brother. As a doctor, he is committed to saving lives wherever possible. As a doctor in a war he finds constraints and restrictions which make the practice of medicine difficult and some choices almost impossible. As a young man, he is isolated from family and friends and the possibility of life outside war as well as the memory of a life before war becomes quite distant.

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the portrayal of choice and conflict for Will Hastings as he sought to survive the battlefield and to try to make sense of events around him. This is not a novel about the events of war, it is instead about the impacts of war on one man, his friends, family and acquaintances. And, of course, of the impacts of war on society and the choices made by individuals.

The first instalment, which I have not yet read, `Virginia’s War’ is written from the perspective of his girlfriend Virginia Sullivan in Texas during the same period. I am looking forward to reading both the 1st and 3rd instalments of the trilogy.

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