Teams representing library reading groups and a library staff team met at Manor House Library on Tuesday 20th May at 7.30pm. We were all set to be tested on our knowledge of Louisa Young's My Dear, I've been meaning to tell you... and, incidentally, on our knowledge of WW1 battles and artists. Wines and light refreshment were much appreciated.
The novel is a harrowing account of a young man's experience of recruitment, fighting and injury in WW1. That's about as much as I can say without spoiling the plot, but the background story is an inter-class romance. That is all established before the young man joins up, but it's the part I found rather dull and not very credible. It's when the fighting starts that it picks up. The author's research into a relatively specialist aspect of the conflict is impressive but very well integrated into a dramatic narrative.
We'd already discussed the book in the Lewisham Main Library reading group that meets at 10.30am on the first Saturday of every month and agreed it was a worthy choice for the annual contest.
We were : Chris (in the spotted top) Sarah, Shirley and me. Like me, Chris is an ex English teacher but she has more of a memory for details than I have, down to the name of the hospital where the hero was treated, which helped us score well on the section about the text. Shirley is an ex Art teacher so was particularly good at identifying artists and titles in the section where we had to identify paintings by artists of the time. Sarah, the youngster of the team - was good at anagrams of WW1 battles and at saying things like 'Just a minute. Is that the real answer? ', as well as supplying plot details. To my surprise, recent visits I've made to Belgium, where my son worked for a while, came in useful because I recognised scrambled names of towns I'd visited but the others didn't know.
At half-time another team was in the lead, but I have to tell you, dear reader, that we won.
On Saturday we'll be discussing another book with a similar theme - Erich Maria Remarque's horrific account of the Great War told from the point of view of a young German soldier: All Quiet on the Western Front.