This is well written and a great page-turner. An underside of love and war with terrific atmosphere and thoroughly filmic scenes.
Trench warfare, London bombings, and at the heart of it, a tender love story. Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about the First World war, Anaesthesia throws new light on the surviving soldier’s experience. The protagonist Jan, slips as easily into morphine addiction, as the reader is allowed to slip into the past – effortlessly, with no resistance. Jan and his sweetheart Lucy, breathe fresh life into this darkest chapter of history. It’s a story that will stay with you.
So many stories have been set during The Great War that it is tempting to think that there is nothing new to say, but this novel proves you wrong.
The indiscriminate administration of morphine during the war produced as many as half a million addicts, and morphine addiction became known as The Army Disease. In Anaesthesia, Adrian Horn takes us though the story of a family that adapt and cope with all that the war throws at them, until the return home of Jan Strang, injured in battle, scarred by his experiences. His mood swings, destructive behaviours and inability to step back into the close relationships he knew before the war are charted without judgment and without compromise.
The writing is clean and never manipulative. The impact of the novel comes from just how believable it all is. This is no grand sprawling epic. This is the well observed story of good and stoic people, unprepared for the psychological impact of war and drug addiction. Our sympathies are stirred not because these people are heroes, but because they are just like us. They are real.
A good read, and because of the depth of research very useful in shedding light on the war which affected my own family. I particularly liked the way some of the dialogue indirectly revealed the deeper feelings of the characters, and the evocation of the wartime atmosphere.
This is a very atmospheric story of a family living through the first World War. It moves between London and France and back again, tackling the issues of post-traumatic illness and the problems of drug addiction amongst recovering soldiers. The writing creates the world of the early twentieth century, and places the protagonists firmly within their time. It was an enjoyable read.