While The Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton — A Review

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while the bombs fell

This is a small book, only in length, but please do not be misled by its relatively short size. It is a wonderful historical read, and it is full of interesting and captivating details of life during World War Two as seen through the eyes of a child.

Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton do a marvelous job of pulling the reader into the child’s perspective, who finds wonder and joy, even in this terrible historical period. I loved reading about how the family survived with what they had and still managed to maintain the important aspects of life regardless of the hardships of the time.

The details are fascinating, and the added recipes are delightful. If you are interested in history or a captivating tale, then I recommend this book highly!

I was enthralled in the story from the very beginning through to the end. I have tended to read historical accounts as told through the perspective of adults, and this book, narrated by a very young child, is a refreshing approach.

I give this book a 5 star review, and I hope you buy a copy and read it!

Please visit Robbie Cheadle’s wonderful sites:

Roberta Writes

Robbie’s Inspiration

Robbie Cheadle–Books/Poems/Reviews

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Another Entry Into The U. L. S. , The Underground Library Society from Robbie Cheadle: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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Thank you so much to Roberta Eaton Cheadle for creating another entry into the U. L. S., the Underground Library Society! The U. L. S. is an unofficial group of people who are dedicated to the preservation of books and in complete opposition to censorship. The idea is based on the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

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Copy of Roberta Writes - independent pub 2 theme.

A Farewell to Arms  

A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, is a love story set during the Italian campaign of World War 1.  

The story is narrated by the main character, Fredric Henry, an American medic, who joined the Italian Army at the commencement of war in the capacity of a lieutenant in the ambulance corp. The book details the romance between Fredric and an English nurse, Catherine Barkley, but it is equally a story of Fredric’s personal growth from a young man with foolish notions about the purpose and glory of war, misguided notions about manhood, and shallow views on love and romance to a mature man who sees the horror and waste of human life brought about by the war and the value of his relationship with Catherine.  

When we first meet Fredric, he is heavily influenced by the Italian military personnel he is associating with, including his roommate, lieutenant Rinaldi. Many of them spend their free time drinking and visiting brothels and they have a bad reputation among the English nursing fraternity who regard them as womanisers. This is indicated when the head nurse tells Fredric he may visit Catherine after her work shift but not to bring any Italians with him.  

Fredric goes along with the views and attitudes of his peers, in particular, Rinaldi. They are an irreverent crew who mock and ease the Catholic priest who serves with them. Fredric’s better nature is demonstrated early in the book when he is kind and friendly towards the priest and he experiences feelings of guilt for not visiting the priest’s hometown during his leave. Instead, he had spent his time visiting bars and brothels. The reader sees in Fredric the potential for him to develop into a better man.  

Fredric meets Catherine through his friend, Rinaldi, and is attracted to her. Initially, she is a game to him, but as time passes and he gets to know her better, he is influenced by her more mature attitudes and starts becoming steadier and more reliable. When he is seriously injured and is transferred to a hospital in Milan for surgery and treatment, he asks for Catherine to nurse him.  

This is the beginning of the great romance that develops between the two and changes the course of both of their lives. Fredric’s injury and the loss of some of his men during the attack matures him and makes him more aware of the fragility of life and love.  

Themes in A Farewell to Arms  

A Farewell to Arms has a number of themes which I have set out below with an appropriate quote form the book.  

War  

“War is not won by victory. What if we take San Gabriele? What if we take the Carso and Monfalcone and Trieste? Where are we then? Did you see all the far mountains today? Do you think we could take all them too? Only if the Austrians stop fighting. One side must stop fighting. Why don’t we stop fighting? If they come down into Italy they will get tired and go away. They have their own country. But no, instead there is a war.”  

Reality versus Fantasy  

“… I remember having a silly idea he might come to the hospital where I was. With a sabre cut, I suppose, and a bandage around his head. Or shot through the shoulder. Something picturesque.”  

“This is the picturesque front,” I said.  

“Yes,” she said. “People can’t realise what France is like. If they did, it couldn’t all go away. He didn’t have a sabre cut. They blew him all to bits.”  

Love and Loss  

“I’m afraid we have to start to go.”  

“All right, darling.”  

“I hate to leave our fine house.”  

“So do I.”  

“But we have to go.”  

“All right. But we’re never settled in our home very long.”  

“We will be.”  

“I’ll have a fine home for you when you come back.”  

Self versus Duty  

“You saw emptily, lying on your stomach, having been present when one army moved back and another came forward. You had lost your cars and your men as a floorwalker loses the stock of his department in a fire. There was, however, no insurance. You were out of it now. You had no more obligation. If they shot floorwalkers after a fire the in the department store because they spoke with an accent they had always had, then certainly the floorwalkers would not be expected to return when the store opened again for business.”  

Manhood  

“The Italians didn’t want women so near the front. So we’re all on very special behaviour. We don’t go out.”  

And  

“I can’t stand him,” Ferguson said. “He’s done nothing but ruin you with his sneaking Italian tricks. Americans are worse than Italians.”  

Religion  

“The saint hung down on the outside of my uniform and I undid the throat of my tunic, unbuttoned the shirt collar and dropped him in under the shirt.”  

And  

“You understand, but you do not love God.”  

“No.”  

“You do not love Him at all?” he asked.  

“I am afraid of Him in the night sometimes.”  

“You should love Him.”  

“I do not love much.”  

Why should A Farewell to Arms be preserved?  

Hemingway’s purpose with this book was to demonstrate the despite the glamour of war and the perceived honour of dying for your country, war is not a worthwhile undertaking. The war setting with its horror, death, and destruction is a contrasted with the wonder of love.  

There are some flaws with this book. I found Catherine to be a bit unrealistic with some of her comments and behaviour, but Hemingway’s amazing writing still pulled me in, and I loved this story. I dwelled on the ending for a long time after reading the last page.  

robbie

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Please be sure to visit Robbie at her wonderful blogs:

Robbie Cheadle Books/Poems/Reviews

Robbie’s inspriation

Thank you again to Robbie Cheadle for this post!

A Ghost And His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle–A Review

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robbie

A Ghost And His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a brilliant, thoughtful, and deeply emotional novel. In this book, which is a historical paranormal novel, she weaves together the plots of a distant time period and shows how they connect to the present. Her historical research is impeccable, and her characters draw the reader completely into the story.

A Ghost And His Gold is a tale of love and hatred, the impact of the past on the present, greed and decency, war and peace, and sinning and redemption. Weaving such an intricacy of themes could easily be difficult, but Cheadle is extraordinary in her narration. She moves the reader seemingly without effort from one time period to another, and confusion is never a problem. Her plotting skills as are strong as are her character development.

This novel is set in South Africa, both in contemporary times and during the Boer Wars. The impact of this setting and history is interwoven beautifully with both the character of the ghosts and those of Michelle and Tom, and we see the tensions of these characters as they impact each other.

While Cheadle intertwines moments of great terror, both from the paranormal and from the consequences of war, ultimately this is a novel about committing terrible transgressions, forgiveness, and achievement of redemption. It is a book about the complexity and depths of the human spirit.

I recommend this novel completely. Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a truly talented writer, and this book is excellent! I give this book a five star review!

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Roberta Cheadle is an accomplished novelist and poet: please read her other work as well and visit her blogs:

Robbie Cheadle Books | Poems | Reviews  and Robbie’s inspiration

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Another U.L.S. entry by Roberta Eaton Cheadle–All Quiet On The Western Front

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Roberta Eaton Cheadle, or Robbie, is an esteemed member of the U. L. S. — the Underground Library Society — and she is offering her thoughts on another book! Robbie, thank you so much!

Robbie has excellent blogs: Robbie Cheadle books/poems/reviews and   Robbie’s inspiration. Both are wonderful; please be sure to visit them.

Thoughts about All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Overview

This book is a first-hand account of the life of Paul Bäumer, who belongs to a squad of German soldiers on the  Western Front during World War I. Paul and his classmates enlisted in the army at the end of their high school career as a result of the impassioned patriotism and relentless coaxing of their teacher, Kantorek. 

All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of Paul and his friends experiences in the trenches. There is a lot of fighting, death, and destruction in this book, but there are also scenes of comradery, friendship, and bravery that break up the ‘heaviness’ of this read and give the reader some short periods of lighter relief.

Among these lighter scenes is one when Paul and his friend ‘Kat’ decide to poach a goose from a local farm. They roast the bird and enjoy a midnight feast, even venturing to share some of their spoil with friends who are in prison for insubordination towards a senior officer.

There are also some interesting insights into life for the French civilians trying to survive amid the disruption and decimation of the war. Russian prisoners of war also feature in this story and their pitiful plight is almost too much to bear.

My thoughts

Why do young men volunteer for war?

I look at my two sons, and I wonder why young men hurl themselves into the teeth of the storm through voluntary subscription to the army. I read about this in The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, and I read about it again in this great, but disturbing, novel, All Quiet on the Western Front.

I have decided there are a few reasons that lead to this rash action. The first, is the expectation of parents and other older members of society that their sons throw down the gauntlet and risk all for “king and country”. Secondly, I believe there has historically been a terrible ignorance about the reality of war. War is glamourized and young men enter the fray with no concept of its harsh conditions or the horror of death.

I wonder if the young men of today would be as eager to take up the role of ‘cannon fodder’ with their greater knowledge of the world through internet access and better educational opportunities.

Leaders and war mongers pray on the passionate fervor of the young to achieve their ill-gotten ends when it comes to war. Wars are all fought either for purposes of greed and power or over religion. More recently, greed and power have trumped the possibly purer intentions of religion. Have recently explored in great depth the reasons behind the Anglo Zulu War and both Anglo Boer Wars in South Africa, as well as the First and Second World War, power and the gain of wealth have been the overarching reasons for placing young men in the line of fire and, often, ending their lives before they have even started.

All Quiet on the Western Front is a book that is written in a war setting and exposes with a sharp and unerringly accurate pen, the absolute horror of the First World War. The book is not, however, about the war, but rather about the loss of innocence the young soldiers experience and their inability to ever adapt back to civilian life afterwards. This is quite clear by the manner in which the story is told. Battles are not named and have so little relevance to the story that whether they are won or lost is not even revealed. Battles feature as a regular feature of the lives of Paul and his comrades; one during which death is a high possibility and survival is the only goal.

The obvious themes of war and patriotism that present in this novel are not the ones that resonated with me.

Given my status as the mother of two teenage boys, not much younger than the boys featured in this novel, it is understandable that the following themes are the ones that have stayed in my mind. I am sharing select quotations that explain these themes as they do so far better than I could.

Loss of innocence

“While they went on writing and making speeches, we saw field hospitals and men dying: while they preached the service of the state as the greatest thing, we already knew that the fear of death is even greater. This didn’t make us into rebels or deserters, or turn us into cowards – and they were more than ready to use all of these words – because we loved our country just as much as they did, and so we went bravely into every attack. But now we were able to distinguish things clearly, all at once our eyes had been opened. And we saw that there was nothing left of their world. Suddenly we found ourselves horrible alone – and we had to come to terms with it alone as well.”

Loss of individuality

“I can still remember how embarrassed we were at the beginning, when we were recruits in the barracks and had to use the communal latrines. There are no doors, so that twenty men had to sit side by side as if they were on a train. That way they could all be seen at a glance – soldiers, of course, have to be under supervision at all times.

Since then we’ve learnt more than just how to cope with a bit of embarrassment. As time went by, our habits changed quite a bit.,

Out here in the open air the whole business is a real pleasure.”

Home

“It gets dark. Kemmerich’s face gets paler, it stands out against his pillow and is so white that it looks luminous. He makes a small movement with his mouth. I get closer to him. He whispers, ‘If you find my watch, send it home.’

I don’t argue. There is no point any more. He is beyond convincing. I’m sick with helplessness. That forehead, sunk in at the temples, that mount, which is all teeth now, that thin, sharp nose. And the fat, tearful woman at home that I shall have to write to – I wish I had that job behind me already.”

Hopelessness

“But our mates are dead, and we can’t help them. They are at peace – who knows what we might still have to face? We want to chuck ourselves down and sleep, or stuff as much food into our bellies as we can, and booze and smoke, so that the passing hours aren’t so empty. Life is short.”

Primitiveness

“It’s a nuisance trying to kill every single louse when you’ve got hundreds of them. The beasts are hard, and it gets to be a bore when you are forever pinching them between your nails. So Tjaden has rigged up a boot-polish lid hanging on a piece of wire over a burning candle-end. You just have toss the lice into this little frying-pan – there is a sharp crack, and that’s it.”

Conclusion

All Quiet on the Western Front is a book we should never allow to be burned or removed from its place as a historical classic. Its primary role in literature, in my opinion, is that it illustrates the pointlessness of war which descends into a series of actions and day-to-day survival with no real meaning or even importance to those involved in the fighting. This sentiment is generally presented through the character of Albert Kropp, one of Paul’s previous school friends.

This book also highlights the destruction of young men’s innocence and their inability to ever reconnect with ordinary civilian life. It doesn’t mention post-traumatic stress syndrome specifically, but this is alluded to throughout the book.

All in, this is one of the most emotional and memorable books I have ever read.

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Again, thank you to Roberta Eaton Cheadle for this U. L. S. post!

Copy of Roberta Writes - independent pub 2 theme.

Robbie