Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Promises Made Under Fire by Charlie Cochrane

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 23, 2013

Lieutenant Tom Donald envies everything about fellow officer Frank Foden—his confidence, his easy manner with the men in the trenches, the affectionate letters from his wife. Frank shares these letters happily, drawing Tom into a vicarious friendship with a woman he's never met. Although the bonds of friendship forged under fire are strong, Tom can't be so open with Frank—he's attracted to men and could never confess that to anyone. When Frank is killed in no-man's-land, he leaves behind a mysterious request for Tom: to deliver a sealed letter to a man named Palmer. Tom undertakes the commission while on leave—and discovers that almost everything he thought he knew about Frank is a lie…

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Soldiers in the Trenches, 1916
Charlie Cochrane's Promises Made Under Fire broke new ground for me. Historic fiction has been my thing for years, but I can honestly say this is the first time I've sampled gay fiction. Unfortunately for Cochrane, I don't feel I have enough experience with the genre to give much of an assessment on that score. Being a newbie I have yet to develop a base line of comparison, but I will offer up what commentary I can regarding the rest of the material. 

I liked this one for a couple of reasons, first and foremost being my personal experience with war letters. Cochrane does a superb job recreating the sentimentality surrounding correspondence exchanged between servicemen and the loved ones they've left behind. Having been in that position I needed that to come through in this piece and I'm happy to say Cochrane exceeding my expectations.

I also liked the subtle romantic tones of the book. Society tends to overemphasize love in times of trial, but Cochrane takes a different route, letting her characters develop their feelings in gently evolving increments. In turn this  allows her readers to understand not only the cast's initial attraction and developing affection, but also the isolation and uncertainty men in their situation must have been felt.

Being at a bit of disadvantage when in it comes to the material I feel like I can't give Cochrane's work quite the justice it deserves. Still, I enjoyed the story and think it a very interesting historic piece. 

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When Foden died, if you’d asked me if I expected to live to see in another year, I’d have given you short shrift. In my blackest moments I wasn’t sure I’d live to see another day.
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Marg said...

I have looked at this book a couple of times but never ended up getting it. Sounds like it was a good read despite the fact that it was outside your comfort zone.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't mind the material. Just haven't experienced it before so I am really unsure how to rate it as I don't know what fans look for.

Not a bad little piece though. :)