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We That Are Left

by Clare Clark

We That Are Left by Clare Clark X
We That Are Left by Clare Clark
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Jane D. (Cincinnati, OH)

We That Are Left - Clare Clark
If you like historical fiction, an entertaining story and unusual characters then this might be the book for you. The authors packs quite a story in the 10 year span of 1910-1920. Clare Clark does a masterful job of fleshing out her characters from the " infuriating weirdo " Oskar to the totally self absorbed and hateful Jessica and many more.

The characters are nicely tied together by their emotional connection to the Melville family estate and what will become of it as it passes on to the next generation and therein lies the richness of the plot. Wrapped around it are the sacrifices that war requires and the toll it takes.

None of the characters end up getting what they want but that does not detract from the enjoyment of the book. The " great war changes everything they knew of their world and and of the country of their youth."

I had recently enjoyed reading The Nightingale and also the Scent of Triumph which were about WW II and Clark's book about WW I was a nice way to learn more about that war .
Christine B. (St. Paul, MN)

Don't Miss This Book!
I absolutely loved this book. The prose is beautiful and so lovingly captures the Melville family. Their lives are so intertwined in ways they could hardly imagine. I found myself rooting for one character- then another- then another. Each alone was rather uncomplicated and precise in their desires, but together they were so daring and complex. I think this book would garner great discussion for any book club. Thanks for letting me enjoy it.

The Rules of Inheritance
This story is seductive. The characters slowly evolve. It was easy to become involved in the younger generation and their awakening to the new reality around them. The old rules that govern inheritance, marriage and lineage soon are tested with Oscar, Jessica and Phyllis. I was surprised by the ending of the novel, even my expectations were shaken when the true colors of each person revealed that family ties may prove more important than personal independence.
Mary B. (St Paul, MN)

We That Are Left
I would have given the book a 4.5 rating if that had been a choice. I enjoyed the book very much but a few times I felt it moved to slowly. The historical aspects of life before and after WW1 I found very interesting, not only the changes in society but also the science aspects that are being discussed and discovered. Anyone who is a Downton Abbey fan, which I am, would probably
enjoy this book. This book stayed on my mind long after I finished it.
Marion W. (Issaquah, WA)

The Revelatory Years
We've all read many novels set during World War I, but what of its aftermath and the effects on British society? At the heart of this story is Ellinghurst, a stately home, with all the attendant concerns about maintenance, inheritance now that the heir is gone, and women acting in ways contrary to their time-sanctioned roles.

As heirs died on the battlefields of Europe, servants concomitantly abandoned their "places", women strove for freedoms, and there was a rise in spiritualism as the living ("We That Are Left") attempted to communicate with the dead.
This is a very atmospheric book,with details about clothing, food, furniture, etc.; the author works on local history projects so gets much of her information about social history from first-hand accounts. Quirky characters
add to the interest. It's a long read, over 400 pages, but holds one's attention; "Downton Abbey" fans especially will appreciate it.
Molly K. (San Jose, CA)

We That Are Left Out
I wanted to like this story more than I did.

Clare Clark writes about complex characters whose lives come together around the disposition of a grand, but decaying, estate in post WWI England. The story is well developed as each character's motives and interests are explored and revealed in a series of encounters over a period of ten years.

The writing is generally excellent. Unfortunately there are some passages that seem to run on forever, along with paragraphs that could have been left out entirely. A number of times I found myself skimming over pages looking for the next encounter.

And, in the end, as in the beginning, the characters seemed isolated and self-absorbed, having forged no real connections with each other. I was reading a soap opera. And, come to think of it, the title of the book is an apt title for a soap opera.
Sheila S. (Supply, NC)

We That Are Left
I really enjoyed this book. I have read a number of books recently that are set in the post WWI era in England, and this book is one of the better ones. It centers around the Melville family and is set against the backdrop of Ellinghurst, the family estate, complete with Victorian castle featuring bastions and turrets and a grassy moat. The Melville's son, and heir to the estate, is killed in the war, and the daughters cannot inherit. So the fate of Ellinghurst is a central theme. The author does a good job of describing the social changes taking place, particularly the problems presented by the deaths of an entire generation of young men. I think that this book would make an excellent book club choice.
Sara P. (Longview, WA)

We That Are Left
The main reason that I enjoyed this book is because it is set in England during and after WW1, and that is a period of great social change in England. The plot revolved around these changes and the great costs and sacrifices of the landed gentry.

The son and heir, Theo, was killed in the war and his mother, who really considered him her only child, dissolves into séances to speak with him totally ignoring her husband and daughters.

The oldest daughter finally gets the chance at University and a career as she was a nurse during the war so had already left the estate. The younger daughter still has the expectations of the past and expects to "come out" and be presented at court. The conflict over the changing role of women is one of the central issues of the book and is well done.

The other main issue is shown by the father's obsession with Ellinghurst, the Victorian castle of a house that he is determined to preserve. His daughters see it as a prison and both escape in various ways during the story.
There is more, but these are the issues that really interested me and I think were well portrayed from multiple points of view. I would recommend this book to friends as a good family saga with important things to say about the beginning of the 20th Century and WW1, and the changes that followed the War's end.
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