Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

I have been reading a lot this summer and I am so glad. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have reading slumps. There are often so many things going on in life and work that I tend to drop reading and writing immediately. It is really not a good habit because reading and writing are two of my favourite things to do in life, so I am vowing to find some balance this coming academic year.

Anyway, onto Private Peaceful.

Spoiler alert!

“Tonight, I want very much to believe that there’s a heaven, that death is not a full stop, and that we will all see one another again.”
― Michael MorpurgoPrivate Peaceful

Private Peaceful is set in WWI, my first WWI novel might I add, and tells the story of Tommo as he is pulled out of his tranquil life in rural England to the treacherous world of war. Tommo lives his entire life filled with guilt and the need to prove that he is brave to his family, mostly his brother Charlie and the girl he loves.

The novel is set in present time as Tommo is waiting for what seems his duty to be over, we later discover that is not the case. Meanwhile, we are also greeted to several flashbacks and memories of Tommo’s life, leading up to current time. As he waits, the audience is given the perception that time is incredibly important in the novel, both past and present as well as the rate in which time passes. Morpurgo weaves the story in such a way that the audience is captured throughout, counting down as Tommo is and waiting painfully and anxiously for the end of his personal war. It reminded me somewhat of that Wilfred Owen poem, Exposure, when the reader is trapped into this never ending loop of suffering, and in Private Peaceful, it feels as if Tommo too is trapped in a loop of endless suffering.

As a book, it is an easy and captivating read. I could not put the book down and was emotionally linked to the characters throughout the novel. Most of all, I was entirely gripped by Tommo’s mum, who proved to be a strong woman, caring, full of gumption and just awesome to be honest. She just took life by its reigns and rolled with it, a total legend. Morpurgo created characters full of life and with so much to say in just 190 pages, and I can’t urge you enough to read it.

Private Peaceful is available for purchase on Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones – at least as I have seen! – Grab this heart-aching novel of WWI, and gain a wider understanding of the suffering our soldiers went through, at times unfairly, for a war that wasted away thousands of lives.

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