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First World War - Adult Fiction Reading List

Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
Birdsong is a story of love, death, sex and survival. Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, arrives in Amiens, France in 1910 to stay with a family. He falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle. After he volunteers to fight on the Western Front, his love for Isabelle is forever engraved on his heart. He experiences the unprecedented horrors of the conflict in this emotional novel.

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.

Regeneration – Pat Barker
Army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers at a Scottish hospital in 1917. His job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. The closer he gets to mending his patients’ minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front.

Regeneration is the classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young men.

The First Casualty – Ben Elton
In Flanders, June 1917, a British officer and celebrated poet, is shot dead. He is killed not by German fire, but while recuperating from shell shock behind the lines. This novel is a gut-wrenching historical drama which explores some fundamental questions.

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