Review of ‘Flora’s War’
Written by Pamela Rushby
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Age Range: Lower Secondary (particularly girls 11+)
Themes: archaeology, war, romance, history, female perspective of war.
I’ve been ridiculously obsessed with historical fiction this year. There seems to be so many great titles in this genre being published at the moment, possibly to tie in with the new National Curriculum. Pamela Rushby has several excellent, multiple award winning historical fiction and non-fiction titles to her name, my personal favourites being ‘The Horses Didn’t Come Home’ and ‘When the Hipchicks Went to War’. Her latest is ‘Flora’s War’, and it combines archaeology, war, romance and history in a neat little package. It fits in beautifully with the National Curriculum for Year 10 history investigating the strands: ‘the significance of the Gallipoli and Western Front campaigns during World War 1’ and ‘The Great War and its aftermath: stories of returned combatants, nurses and auxiliaries’.
Flora Wentworth, the daughter of a wealthy Australian archaeologist, enjoys an annual sojourn in Cairo assisting her father with digs and mixing with the elite in their social gatherings. However, 1915 is very different and Flora soon realises her hopes of a wonderful time partying and no longer being a ‘schoolgirl’ but a ‘modern girl’ are not going to happen. She watches with growing alarm as wounded soldiers begin to be shipped into the city from Gallipoli.
Pamela Rushby clearly and succinctly transports the reader into Cairo during this tragic period of History. She captures the environment, people and atmosphere so the reader can feel very much part of the setting and the story. The elite, who continue to enjoy life, and the archaeologists, who are totally engrossed in their work, see changes as Cairo becomes a military camp.
Friendships are made as more soldiers and nurses arrive. Flora and her friend Gwen as ‘modern girls’ are swept up with the headiness of it all, but are soon thrown into the horrendous reality of war as troops, including their new friends, are moved out of Cairo. Soldiers make engagement proposals and requests as pen pals of the girls and their friends.
It is not long before huge numbers of casualties arrive. The author successfully pulls the reader into the dreadful situation with such vividness that it becomes almost palpable. The exhaustion and courage of everyone is foremost.
As Flora battles to save lives and find her own, a tragic misunderstanding changes everything…
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