Friday, 10 August 2018
Home Before the Leaves Fall
However, it is different to many of the other novels set during the Great War, or Wold War One as that conflict is also known.
This is because Collier has taken the interesting step in his debut novel to set the novel from a German perspective.
As war breaks out all over Europe German university student Franz Becker takes the decision to give up his academic life -at least for the present time- and to enlist in the Kaiser's Army.
He feels sure that the army life will enable him to escape from his safe and predictable life. However, not everyone in Germany agrees with him .For example his best friend, Karl von Leussow is sickened by the idea of a European conflict. And Karl should know about this type of matter. After all, hadn't his family supplied the Prussian Army with members of the officer class for many generations?
Despite his misgivings (Karl is aware exactly how bloody and brutal war can actually be) Karl also joins the army in order to defend his country.
Along with the other new recruits they both receive six weeks of barely adequate training and they are bundled off to join in the fighting at Ypres. The fighting was terrible and the carnage unthinkable.
The shock at what he is witnessing has a major impact on Franz, but he swiftly learns that he must fight or die. So, he fights.
He proves to be a good solider and his promotion up the ranks is rapid. He is then put under considerable pressure to make the change to join the officer class, but he knows of the dangers of becoming an officer and declines to take the commission.
Karl, with a background in hunting, becomes a sniper, which causes his friend Franz some angst.
After seeing aircraft above the trenches more frequently, Franz decides to transfer to the Air Service, but Karl decides to remain earthbound.
After his acceptance into the Air Service the two friends decide to enjoy a leave together.
The novel is extremely well written and pulls no punches. The one thing the reader will begin to understand is that there's probably no difference between the soldiers, no matter what side they are on.
It is published by Matador at £7.99.