Military historian, Simon Jones, says Vera Brittain’s memoir, Testament of Youth, upon which the new movie is based, is one the best of “hundreds and hundreds” he has read about WW I.  Here he is in an interview at Here and Now.

The intro says:

“Anyone looking for a powerful summer read should pick up a copy of Vera Brittain’s 1933 “Testament of Youth.” The memoir is a cross between shows like Downton Abbey, films like Galipoli, and modern-era war fiction like “The Things They Left Behind.”

This 82 year-old 600-plus page book rises to the top of the stack. It was written by Brittain — a feminist, pacifist, nurse, poet, and student — nearly 18 years after The Great War robbed her of her youth, her fiancé, her brother and her best friends. Virginia Woolf said at the time that she stayed up all night to read it, and the Sunday Times of London called it “A book which stands alone among books written by women about the war.”

I’m in the middle of reading it, with great attention.  While I don’t know about “the best” it is certainly moving, and from a wholly different point of view than the hundreds and hundreds available: it is by a woman, unafraid to speak of her naivete, her early support for the war, and her slowly strengthening recognition of how she had changed.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email