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Starshine by John Wilcox (Allison & Busby, £19.99)
THE British forces are outnumbered in their fight against the German soldiers in France during 1914. Jim Hickman and Bertie Murphy are childhood friends caught up in this nightmare and through the horrors and chaos their friendship remains a reassuring constant.
It is not long before Jim receives his first honour, the first of many but Bertie, a devout Irish Catholic, has difficulty coming to terms with all the killing.
Over the next two years, depression sets in, but with the help of Jim and the thought of Polly back home he continues to do his duty. Polly is a childhood friend of both soldiers who has grown up to love them both, so when she receives a marriage proposal from each of them she does not know who to choose. But in war, anything can happen and lives can change at the toss of a coin so that when a terrible tragedy happens fate decides their futures.
This is a very readable book on a difficult subject. The descriptions of the First World War battlefields are realistic and, while horrific, they help to emphasise the tragedy that befalls the characters.
Both Jim and Bertie are engaging personalities and keep the reader involved with the story so that we turn the pages with gratification until we learn what happens to them and Polly.
The author captures both tragedy and love in this moving and vivid novel.