Beautiful weaving of myth and history
Marcus Sedgwick is a wonderful and layered writer, mainly for children and young adults, though he recently wrote a book very much for adults, with an interesting, unformulaic take on the vampire archetype, nothing at all like the rash of same old same old clonal dreary teeth and jugular inevitability A Love Like Blood
Much of Sedgwick’s writing inhabits a territory which is a kind of marriage between historical event, transposed into fiction, and the connection to myth and fairy tale. He opens out the enduring nature of archetype.
This story of the First World War, and the journey of a young woman who becomes a VAD, and then goes to the front to search for her brother, is a remarkably clear handling of political viewpoints as they changed throughout the war; most particularly the split between a ‘patriotic’ population at home, who thought the war a good thing, and how the reality of the carnage affected the soldiers. Sedgwick beautifully gets under the skin of his intelligent and likeable central character, and the beginning of change for a generation of young women who were beginning to see their lives might be more than marriage and motherhood.
Sedgwick gives his account extra depth and resonance through linking the protagonist with Cassandra – hence the title of the book, as Cassandra possessed the ability to perceive tragic events, but her vision was a curse to her, as no-one believed her, and she was spurned and outcast for her abilities. Sasha, Sedgwick’s central character, also has these ‘gifts’ and like Cassandra, they are visions of a time of war and conflict. The connection reminds us of how deeply wars are ingrained in our psyche.
Sedgwick ostensibly is writing for ‘young adults’; his writing is deep and true enough to satisfy old adults as well. He reminds me so much of Alan Garner, another writer as mythic and satisfying for not yet adults and adults who have not forgotten their connection to childhood – whatever their age!
This particular book of Sedgwick’s was written some years ago – it’s not a ‘cash-in’ on the 100 year since the start of the First War, but I remembered reading this book some 6 years ago, and the 100 year since…reminded me to go back to it