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The year 1914 was the beginning of the Great War and for the brothers who make up the main storyline of James Farner’s book 1914, it was a life-changing year. The storyline is set in wartime Britain and provides a bit of backstory and follows a family off to war.If you’re a fan of dialog-rich historical drama, this book will be a welcome addition to your library. The plotline develops at varying speeds, with the opening providing plenty of dialog to get to know the rough-and-tumble boys. I couldn’t help but reminded of some of the scenes from the Netflix show Peaky Blinders. If you happen to be a fan of that era in British history, you’ll find yourself quite at home reading 1914.There are a few timeless characteristics of soldiers that come through in this story. For the most part, soldiers find themselves wracked with the uncertainty of military life. The first world war was one of the worst wars for that, sitting in trenches all while hearing shells flying overhead. The details of weapons, vermin like lice, and even life in the trenches come out in this intriguing story.Before the war, the boys hustled cigarettes in the streets for a living. Their mother was a bit of a drunkard and becomes an immediately frustrating character. With each new major character introduced, the reader feels a sense of listlessness. Who should we root for and where is it going? Once the war begins, though, a clear direction emerges that makes the book quite the gripping tale of a family torn apart by the world’s most spectacular war to that point.If you’re looking for raw military detail, this may not be the book for you. But if you want a sense of life in the early 20th century both in British cities as well as in the army, this is a nice dramatic retelling. Some of the banter of the brothers shows the layers of real and imagined bravado that fueled so many young men as they made their way to that tragic war.

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