Private Peaceful is a book that was recommended to me by one of my Year 7 classes; children’s fiction isn’t a huge interest of mine so I was grateful for any suggestions. We have our own school blog that I have just begun, so far only this class use it as they are my guinea pigs, so it was helpful to have many great reads from the class itself so I could put the list on the blog for when they are feeling stuck for inspiration.
Private Peaceful follows the lives of two brothers, Charlie and Tommo Peaceful. We first meet the brothers before the First World War shortly after the death of their father and read about their experiences of country life in the early twentieth century, experiencing poaching, school, work and, of course, falling in love. As was common of the time, the Peaceful family work and live on an estate, and when the Colonel insists that Charlie Peaceful must go and fight in France, his younger brother lies abut is age and joins him, taking us on an adventure across the haunting battlefields of the First World War.
Since my Masters I have developed a huge interest in literature of, surrounding, about the First World War; for me it is a truly tragic, yet hopelessly romantic period in British history that offers so much opportunity and inspiration for both authors and readers alike. My reading of this period has often centred on adult fiction (bar War Horse), so this was certainly a refreshing and new take on my favourite area of history.
The novel is split into chapters, the titles of which are a countdown of time, instantly creating a sense of impending doom and tension. The chapters are told in dual narratives; the first few paragraphs detail what is happening at hat particular time, each chapter offering a few more clues as to what the mystery is and the rest of the chapter tells the story of the Peaceful brothers throughout their lives and what led them to the battlefields. I found this style of narrative confusing at first, primarily because I’m too impatient and wanted to know the mystery right away. About halfway through the novel I thought I had it sussed and then another unexpected twist threw me off track, making this a highly recommended read from my point of view, so a big thank you to my class for suggesting it.