Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth

Book - 1980
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Much of what we know and feel about the First World War we owe to Vera Brittains elegiac yet unsparing book, which set a standard for memoirists from Martha Gellhorn to Lillian Hellman. Abandoning her studies at Oxford in 1915 to enlist as a nurse in the armed services, Brittain served in London, in Malta, and on the Western Front. By wars end she had lost virtually everyone she loved. "Testament of Youth" is both a record of what she lived through and an elegy for a vanished generation. Hailed by the "Times Literary Supplement" as a book that helped both form and define the mood of its time, it speaks to any generation that has been irrevocably changed by war.
Publisher: New York : Seaview Books, c1980
ISBN: 9780872236714
Characteristics: 661, [1] p. : music ; 22 cm


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Nov 12, 2014

An emotional account of the Great War, 1914-18, through the eyes of a young, intelligent girl who is driven by the causes of her day.

Her account of how British women got the vote in the early years of the 20th century is fascinating, as Vera was indeed one of the leaders of that movement. Her memories of losing all the young men who mattered to her in her own life paralleled the loss of a generation of young women. Finally, Vera’s decision to transfer her sphere of study from Literature to history so that she could understand better why the war was fought and channel the outcome of the conflict led her to become an expert in the league of Nations and a voice for women’s issues everywhere.

A wonderful women whose daughter continued in her footsteps, the two made a mark on women’s rights in today’s world and deserve to be remembered proudly.

Fascinating reading as an historical account through the eyes of one who was there. But the book can be heavy slugging at times, with much detail and poetic waxing. It was written in the days of Downton Abbey and must be enjoyed as a window on the past.

Apr 17, 2012

I very much enjoyed Brittain's style, her unbridled energy, her determined feminism, her sense of adventure. She does this in a colourful, descriptive style. There is much honesty and pure emotion, both positive and negative, which plunge the reader in the heart of her life: its miseries as well as its successes. While I appreciate this book is valuable as a detailed description of the times, I sometimes found it long and I slogged through many chapters: the dull years in France, the combative political implications. For historians, it is doubtless gold; for the fiction reader that I am, it is at times rather tedious. This doesn't take away, however, from the fact that Brittain is an exceptional woman of courage and strength, one who has done much for women's rights and one who has given a voice to an entire generation.

ragamuffin Oct 05, 2010

This is a beautifully written and moving book, it gives a real sense of what it was like growing up during the First World War and the terrible toll it took on people.


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