by A.N. Arthur
“Between Two Worlds” is an historical novel set in New Zealand in the early period of the past century heading into the uncertain world around the time of the Great War.
Here I must confess I enjoy reading historical novels as the authors usually do a lot of researching of conditions of the time and weave a story about the central characters that is totally believable. The situations may not have occurred to just one person but are taken from a set of family stories with more than a grain of truth in them.
This novel is about two young men, Samuel and Jimmy, growing up and making their way in a world fraught with poverty. We are drawn into their lives and romances then, as war is declared, the story involves not only their decisions but the feeling of their families and friends when the call to arms is made.
Some found it a big adventure, others struggled with the feelings of the conscientious objectors. Those men knew it was wrong to kill another fellow human being and by refusing they were branded cowards and treated appallingly by their fellow citizens and the Army alike. In “Between Two Worlds” we get glimpses of the treatment of these men by their fellow soldiers, and it was not a pretty sight.
We see men crazed with shell-shock who suicide in utter despair and others who somehow manage to survive as the horrors of war encompass them; and then their return home to family, physically broken in body mind and spirit.
We also get glimpses of the treatment of the Germans who lived in New Zealand at the time, and the prejudice against the Chinese. Many of these were naturalized Kiwis but were immediately branded as “enemy” and treated as such.
“Between Two Worlds” is the second book of what will be a trilogy. The first, "Orphanage Boys", is about Samuel and Jimmy when they were younger, and this book is a follow-on from their orphanage life to manhood.
I read this book in under a week as I got very involved in the story and the lives of the men and their families.
In the author’s note at the end of the book, A.N. Arthur summed it up beautifully as she states that war is not glorious or honorable. The overpowering feature of war doesn’t happen on the battlefields. It happens in our families and homes, in our communities after peace is declared and it taints each generation beyond itself.
How true is that.
Editor’s note: Orphanage Boys was reviewed by FlaxFlower in June 2017
Author: A.N Arthur
Publisher: Rangitawa Publishing
Available: Hard copy and Kindle, can be ordered from the publisher, any bookstore or on Amazon