Book Review: Broken By Messines, by Dr. Mark Wardlaw

Broken by Messines in WW1 - The Grandparents I Never KnewBroken by Messines in WW1 – The Grandparents I Never Knew by Mark Wardlaw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book that best fits into the category of genealogical memoir. In doing his research, Dr. Wardlaw has tried to open up the secrets behind the distant love affair of his grandfather and grandmother, who were engaged for over five years, living on different continents and able to only communicate by letters that often took several months to arrive. It is a story of love that nearly was unrequited and it ends as a tragedy in many ways. Many of the letters are unfortunately stilted in their writing. This is due to the period of history in which many of the things we talk about openly today were not discussed. In addition, Peter’s military service during the war and the rigid censorship of letters from battle field areas meant that often soldiers could only talk about the most mundane of circumstances. For me the very best part of the book is in very long letter from Kate to Peter which describes her trip to New Zealand’s tourist centers while fiance Peter is off on the Galipoli peninsula fighting the Turks. I believe the Dr. is right in saying that the eventual outcome of the marriage and some of the mysteries of his own father’s upbringing are still not completely resolved by this research. Those readers in the Wardlaw clan who read this will gain insight into the history and relationships which only letters can open for us in the realm of history.

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