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Once the reader is transported to the front, the novel becomes vivid, even poetic. As in her Regeneration trilogy, Miss Barker’s descriptions of what happens to the minds and bodies of the young soldiers are vivid and alive. Her literary heart is bound to that war, and her best work blossoms in the blood and gore of the wounded and dying.

It is the passion and compassion in the descriptions of these soldiers, of the patient nurses who attend them, and the mud and rain where “ambulances roar, cough, hiccup, splutter, stop, unload the wounded, and drive off again churning the mud in the running circle to thick brownish-black cream” that mesmerize the reader and remind what an outstanding writer Miss Barker is.

Corinna Lothar is a writer and critic in Washington.