This book was passed onto me by a friend and I must admit that I started it mostly out of a sense of obligation - haven't we all been there? Luckily in this case it turned out to be a well-placed recommendation. Armistice is set at the end of World War 1 and concerns Philomena, a young woman who is making the journey South to London to meet the soldiers who fought side by side with her fiancé before he fell in battle in France. On arrival, it is alleged that Dan's death in fact occurred after the Armistice, and under suspicious circumstances. We follow her journey to try and find the truth.
The main thing that
I initially found off-putting about this novel was the wartime setting.
I have to admit that historical fiction is just not my genre, and this
particularly applies to wartime stories. The reason that this wasn't
a problem when reading Armistice is that it isn't really about the war
at all. You could take these characters and this scenario and stick them
in the present day, even 100 years from now and it would still be relevant
and engaging. One person alleges that something is true, a second
person denies it, and a third party is stuck in the middle trying to
fathom out what's what. Furthermore, I didn't get a good feel for life
in that particular period when reading this book. The London that is
portrayed actually feels fairly modern, other than Philomena's
occasional reluctance to go somewhere unaccompanied as a single woman. I
was surprised to read about sordid sex! and drugs! (not so much the
rock and roll).
Nick Stafford raises some interesting questions
about class, equality and justice which are still relevant today. On the
battlefield men would fraternise with other soldiers from all walks of
life and put differences in social status aside. Once war was over
it must have been really difficult for everybody to go back to their
normal roles, and this is something that is illustrated really well in
Armistice. It also made me muse over the impact that status and power has on the justice system.
ending was pleasantly unexpected and I felt, pitched just right. I
enjoyed this and would recommend it to historical fiction fans as well
as those who don't enjoy the genre.