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It is 1915 and sixteen-year-old Margery ‘Midge’ Macpherson from a Canterbury sheep farm in New Zealand is studying at Miss Hollington’s School for Young Ladies, a boarding school in England, while her two brothers Dougie and Tim serve in the Army during World War I.
Midge is worried as her twin brother Tim (who enlisted under another name because he was underage) is listed as missing in action. Keen to do her bit Midge and her boarding school friends Ethel and Anne open a canteen in France to feed and care for the soldiers returning from the front.
While working at the canteen Midge meets Slogger Jackson, a female ambulance driver (driving an old butcher’s van). After Slogger’s hands are badly hurt Midge takes her place as an ambulance driver and ends up assisting at field hospital. Midge suddenly experiences the true horrors of war.
ANZAC is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Midge meets Harry Harrison, a son of an Australian sheep farmer. They share bond because of their connection as farmers.
Majority of the novel takes place between 1915 and 1920, during and just following the First World War. But the narrative is bookended by two contemporary events – an ANZAC Day service in Biscuit Creek, a small Australian town in 1975 and ANZAC Day in Biscuit Creek in 2007.
The book is written in third person with personal letters sent and received by Midge interwoven between the chapters.
French does not shy away from the horror of War and there are some graphic depictions of the violence and consequences of War.