If you are not from Australia or New Zealand, you may wonder what ANZAC means. Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) are the combined forces of Australia and New Zealand. The ANZAC’s were called into battle by the British. The story follows a girl from New Zealand that desperately wanted to help.
The silent armies are what they are often called. The women that worked in the armies as sisters, nurses, ambulance drivers and ran canteens. Often in history, these women are barely mentioned, but Jackie French changes that perspective in A Rose for the ANZAC Boys.
The story follows Miss Madge McMapherson. A 17-year old girl, who has sent to English boarding school once her brothers signed up for WWI. Feeling useless at school, she and two friends set up a canteen in France to feed soldiers that are going to war. Not long after they set up they are confronted with reality. Attacks to the front nearby, cause many injuries and the soldiers that have to go back to England come by through the canteen. Madge feeds soldier after soldier hot chocolate.
For three years, Madge plays her part amongst many other women in the war. Jackie French makes you admire the work of the women. Once, Madge goes back to New Zealand, she finds she is not the same anymore. She is used to working, but not in the household. Like many women after the war, she cannot become just a housewife. During the war, Madge did not only use many friends and family, she also lost her dependency on men.
French writes quick when necessary and leaves blanks when the characters are kept in the dark. The story varies between letters and dialogue. Once the war starts, you just want to keep going until it finishes. A well-written, nicely researched book, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about warfare. The book would go greatly with a history unit on WWI or around the time of ANZAC Day.