Thursday, December 3, 2009
"Passchendaele", by Paul Gross
Passchendaele is a romanticized story around the extraordinary achievements by soldiers fighting a battle on blood-soaked grounds for almost four months, one that would become synonymous with the horrors of the First World War. Paul Gross highlights the determination, commitment and triumph of Canadians during this troubled time.
The book has a bit of everything: interesting characters, some temptation (drugs and sex), a passionate love story and in the background WW1 and its graphic battle scenes.
Sergeant Michael Dunne, a soldier who is brutally wounded in France returns to a Calgary military hospital where he meets and falls in love with Sarah an attractive nurse. When Sarah's brother David signs up to fight in Europe, Michael feels compelled to return to Europe with the hope of keeping David safe.
I was somewhat disappointed, I expected Gross would have elaborated more about the Canadian involvement in the battle it doesn't kick in till two-third into the book. Much of the story was dedicated to time in Calgary following the adventures of Sergeant Dunne and his girlfriend a drug addicted nurse. Sarah's brother comes in and out with his own problems and story.
As for the battle, it was muddy, bloody and pretty descriptive; it also had a sense of déjà vu. The novel literary wise has its ups and downs, it emphasizes life and sacrifice during the time of war.
Is this a love story or a war story, the decision is up to the individual reader.