The period just after the First World War is a time that fascinates me. Not only was everyone trying to settle back into a normal way of life, there was also the Spanish Flu pandemic to deal with. It must have seemed like the difficult times would never come to an end.
Blasted Things focuses on two characters, both damaged though in different ways by the Great War. Clem had been a nurse at the front line and as you can imagine had seen some horrific things which the author vividly describes in the first section of the novel. Like everyone, she had significant losses to deal with and is finding it very difficult to settle into life as a doctor’s wife and a new mother. Vincent has suffered serious facial injuries meaning that he wears a tin plate over part of his face to hide his deformities. Their worlds literally collide one day and this sets them on a destructive path.
What was fascinating about this book for me was the way the characters behaved. Clem is clearly suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at a time when these kind of mental health issues were not understood and were swept under the carpet. You would think that with her husband being a doctor, he might be more understanding but he was more of the mindset that you just didn’t talk about what you had seen. He was a product of his time I’m sure but he did seem rather cold towards Clem and not very sympathetic at all. It was not much of a surprise to me that Clem made some rather bad decisions as she tried to cope with her experiences. And my goodness what disastrous decisions she made at times!
Vincent is more of the villain of the piece and yet I did feel some sympathy towards him. It must have been so infuriating coming home from the war, so badly damaged and yet finding that because of the way he looked, some possibilities were no longer available to him. He was definitely opportunist and a bit of a chancer. Yet it seemed to me that all he wanted was the chance to make a new start, to be accepted as he was before his injuries and mostly to be loved. I was very conflicted in my feelings towards Vincent.
Blasted Things is beautifully written historical fiction showing that people can be damaged physically or mentally, and that scars cannot always be seen. The intertwining stories of Clem and Vincent are both compelling and moving.
My thanks to Ceris at Sandstone Press for the invitation to take part in the blogtour and for sending me a copy of the book for review. Blasted Things is available in all formats and you will
be able to buy your copy from your usual book retailer.
There are also buying options on the Sandstone website here: Blasted Things
About the book
1920: Britain is trying to forget the Great War. Clementine, who nursed at the front and suffered her own losses, must bury the past and settle for a life of middle class respectability.
Then she meets Vincent, an opportunistic veteran whose damage goes much deeper than the painted tin mask he wears to face the world. Powerfully drawn together they enter a deadly relationship that careers towards a dark and haunting resolution.
About the Author
Lesley Glaister is a fiction writer, poet, playwright and teacher of writing. She has published fourteen adult novels, the first of a YA trilogy and numerous short stories. She received both a Somerset Maugham and a Betty Trask award for Honour Thy Father (1990), and has won or been listed for several literary prizes for her other work. She has three adult sons and lives in Edinburgh (with frequent sojourns to Orkney) with husband Andrew Greig. She teaches creative writing at the University of St Andrews and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.