It is 1915. war is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen-year-old Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge's brothers are in the army, and her twin, Tim, is listed as 'missing' in the devasting defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli. Desperate to do their bit-and avoid boredom of school and the restrictions of Society0Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recurited by the over-streched ambulance servive, is thrust in the carnage and scenes of courage she could ever imagined. And when the war is over, and all the three girls-and their Anzac boys as well-discover that going 'home' can be both strange and wonderful.
A Rose for the ANZAC Boys
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.
A Rose for the ANZAC boys is a story about survival, death, blood, loss, and hope through the terrifying reality of World War 1. This book proves that war has no glory, just pain, but underneath, there is hope, the strongest thing you can feel. You get a different side of the war, the perspective of the ANZACS who fought along side the English, who are just as brave as the English War Heroes, maybe even more.
This book is also about the hidden army, the women and men, who ran the hospitals and ambulance services when no one else did. They faced as much extremes as the men who fought on the battlefields, the horror of some of the injuries that the soldiers had, and the danger of driving ambulances from the hospital to the front, facing the monster what the men faced.
The blurb of this book is a bit deceiving, as only the last part of the book is set in Midge's home. It is mainly about what some brave women did, ones outside the Red Cross, ones who received no credit for what they did. This book gives the credit this brave warriors deserve, and reading this book will let them rest in peace.
Lest we forget...