8 Wartime-Lit Picks for Veterans Day
“Nobody whom this war has touched will ever be happy again in quite the same way. But it will be a better happiness, I think, little sister—a happiness we've earned.”
Rilla of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery
Happy Veteran's Day! Today our hearts go out in commemoration to celebrate all who have fought for their country and left peace and security at home to fight the enemy in our stead. It is because of their great sacrifice that we live in safety, one that has been fought for and earned by the honor and nobility of our veterans.
In honor of today, I've compiled a list of 8 picks under Wartime Literature. Some of these books deal with war quite heavily, and in others it is a shadow that lurks behind the curtain of a story—but all are affected by that grim shape of war looming in their midst.
1. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
The final book of Montgomery's beloved Anne of Green Gables saga, Rilla of Ingleside is perhaps my favorite of all. Canada's only book from the WW1 period concerning the women of the homefront, it's depth, poignancy and unfading heartache mark it also as one of the most beautiful and heartfeltly raw works of fiction from World War 1. Rilla—Anne Blythe's youngest daughter—is a spoiled, petted baby of fourteen at the start of the book, but the journey toward becoming the hard-working, heart-wrung, strong young woman is an absolutely touching story that will never fade with time.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I've often heard that The Book Thief should be considered a modern classic, and I entirely agree. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, tragic, heartwarming books ever written, crafted with Zusak's ingenious writing style and hauntingly narrated by the angel of death itself. Liesel Meminger, a young, illiterate girl, is adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann in Nazi Germany, WW2. The Hubermann's don't see eye to eye with the rising regime of Hitler, and they care for a young Jewish man in hiding, teach Liesel to think for herself, to read and write, and lay the foundation for a lifelong love of a young child with words and the craft of storytelling. “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Guernsey (and so on) Society is a masterful story inspired by true events from the German-occupied Island of Guernsey during WW2. Juliet Ashton, a young London writer who falls into correspondence with pig-farmer Dawsey Adams of Guernsey, discovers a powerful story of life, hardship, love and fellowship woven between the members of a book-club society. This poignant, beautiful story is a sure favorite, and was also adapted into a Netflix film in 2017 that is absolutely touching.
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Alcott's beloved story of the March sisters was America's first children's classic, and while not strictly associated with wartime literature, it cannot be doubted that the shadow of the Civil War hangs over the lives of the Marches. The sisters learn to become "little women" in the absence of their father, who was away serving as a chaplain during the War, before he falls seriously ill in Washington. The March girls grow up with strength and self-sacrifice at their hour of need, though the shadow of the War persists close to home, and ever in their hearts and minds.
5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
One of the most popular picks for wartime literature as voted by my Instagram base, this Pullitzer-prize winning book follows a German boy and a blind girl in Paris, France, as WW2 rages on around them. This beautiful story of friendship and light amid darkness is poignant as well as touching. Behind Doerr's gripping storytelling lurks a war that affects all whose lives it touches, in its brutality and never-ending consequences.
6. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Corrie Ten Boom's autobiography detailing her experience during WWII is a powerful, heart-wrenching story that takes her from her home in the Netherlands to Hitler's concentration camps. Binding together Ten Boom's gripping story is the faith that brought her through unimaginable hardship, and manages to pull the reader ever closer to the God who protects in this timeless true story.
7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Narnia, a wartime story, I hear you ask? Yes, indeed! C.S. Lewis orginally wrote his beloved Chronicles of Narnia as a story for children who were evacuated during WWII, as the Pevensie children were at the start of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as well as half of England's school-age children at the time. During the Pevensie's stay with Professor Kirke, they discover a mysterious wardrobe that brings them into the world of Narnia, and thus their adventures commence. The children face a war of their own, apart from their own world, and emerge stronger and braver than they could have dreamed.
8. A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte
In this extensively researched biography of Tolkien and Lewis's wartime experiences, Joseph Loconte explores the origins of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, neither of which we would have today were it not for the Great War. From the horror of the trenches to the traumatic aftermath of war, Tolkien and Lewis found faith and friendship in a relationship that would set a groundbreaking mark upon fantasy literature for all of time.
Have you read any of these eight picks for wartime literature? Comment below a few of your favorites if you've anything to add to the list! :)
Have a happy Veterans Day!
Until next time,