Friday, April 14, 2017

Alan Lloyd: The Lost Generation by Isobel Charman

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: April 6, 2017

As a boy, Alan Lloyd could never have imagined the harsh realities of the war he would one day fight in. In this retelling of his story, using extracts from diaries and correspondence, including Alan’s letters to his wife from the front line, Isobel Charman has woven together the tale of a journey from privileged young man to officer fighting for his life and country in World War One. Descended from the Lloyds banking family, Alan grew up wanting for nothing. He studied at Cambridge, where his life revolved around rowing, cricket and planning his future. After university, he fell in love with Dorothy and set about forging a career in farming, but then, just as the couple were ready to settle down, war broke out. Against the wishes of his devout Quaker family, Alan joined the army. In July 1915 he left for France, where his life became one of guns, trenches, death and survival in the Great War. 

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I owe my interest in Isobel Charman's Alan Lloyd: The Lost Generation to Matthew McNulty, the actor who played Alan in ITV’s The Great War: The People's Story. The World War I docudrama covers the lives of several ordinary individuals as seen through their own diaries and letters, but something about the way McNulty played Alan stuck in my head and ultimately led to my discovery and purchase of Charman's biography.

Beginning with Alan's family background, the book chronicles the whole of Alan's life, but the heart of the story is his relationship with Dorothy and how it grew, changed, and was eventually defined by World War I. Lloyd's letters offer unique insight to the lifestyle of the well-to-do and his personalty draws the reader into both the emotional and physical experience of fighting in the trenches and while I'd have loved to see more of Dorothy's own letters to Alan, I couldn't help falling for the story of this young couple caught up in the turmoil of war.

At only one hundred twenty-nine pages, the narrative is not a long or drawn out affair and historically, I can't recommend Alan Lloyd: The Lost Generation as a particularly noteworthy, but there's something to be said for firsthand accounts and Alan's view of the world makes an engaging read beginning to end.

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We’re an old veteran crew, and we got a bad start and Leander got a bad start, but in the end they won and we’ll win and that’s all there is to it.
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1 comment:

Stephanie - Bookfever said...

Great review! :) Alan Lloyd: The Lost Generation sounds like something I'd be interested in reading.