Published on June 5th, 2023 | by Chris O'Connor

In Memoriam Book Review

In Memoriam Book Review Chris O'Connor

Summary: With the war raging, young men are expected to enlist and do their part for the cause. For some, being sent to the front will not only challenge them physically, but emotionally in more ways than they expected.


Contained Conflict

For Elwood and Gaunt the war is far away yet ever present in their boarding school. With reports of fellow classmates deaths makes the war seem all the more exciting. Despite being a pacifist, Gaunt also has German ancestry and to try and stem the anti-german sentiment his family are receiving, they ask him to enlist. In an effort to protect his family and also to escape his hidden feelings for his best friend, Gaunt enlists right away but is soon shocked to learn that Elwood has followed him and will be on the front with him.

Alice Winn takes us from the idealistic notions of war that play in the minds of those far from the horrors of the reality of it, to the very real devastating impact of it first hand. But it’s not just the physical impact of war, or the psychological trauma it inflicts on those engaged on either side… but the emotional strain of a forbidden love that Alice explores. Gaunt and Elwood dared not express their love for each other, in part for fear of rejection but also because it was a love that was illegal. But when faced with a high chance of death at any moment… can they still hide the love they feel for one another? Does their love put them at greater risk than the bullets and bombs that explode around them?

I will admit that I got a little confused as to who was with whom and in what fashion in the start of the book. It was a little tricky, as it seemed like there were “relations” of sorts going on between a number of the students, that were known about… but it was put down to mostly boarding school activity and not seen as anything more than that… when they left they were assumed to go off and find a wife etc. Or I missunderstood the relationships? That all became a clearer affair once the story moved to the front line and things became more up front.

I also wasn’t too keen on the sections that would drop in a line of Greek but not give a translation. This is arguably a personal issue though, I understand that it’s simply there to show the classical teachings the students were given… but as someone keen to learn I would love to have had at least a little note at the bottom of the page with the translation.

The only other “issue” I had… and it really wasn’t an issue of any import, was about half way through the book an event occurs that has a fairly predictable follow on. It’s arguably just because of years of exposure to many different stories… but it was a pretty obvious “surprise”.

Overall though… I found the story quite compelling. The depictions of the horrors of being on the front line were suitably traumatic and worked as a good contrast to the bravado the students had when in the safety of their dorms.

Final Thoughts: If you like a bit of war time romance but like the idea of the couple being same sex then certainly grab a copy. Even if you just like the idea of war time romance (and don’t mind that the couple are same sex)… grab a copy. An engaging read with some heart wrenching moments to remind us of the horror of war and it’s impact on everyone.

About the Author'

Father of four, husband of one and all round oddity. Gaming at home since about 1982 with a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Moving on to the more traditional PC genre in the years that followed with the classic Jump Joe and Alley Cat. CGA, EGA, VGA and beyond PC's have been central to my gaming but I've also enjoyed consoles and hand helds along the way (who remembers the Atari Lynx?). Would have been actor/film maker, jack of many trades master of none.

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