Tuesday, January 25, 2005
"Shoulder the Sky" by Anne Perry
I had previously read two other novels by this author; one featuring Inspector Monk and the second, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt. But this historical mystery I enjoyed more than either of those. It is set in 1915 before the U.S. entered WWI, during the time when England shouldered much of the burden in defending Europe from German aggression.
I listened to much of this unabridged audio version while traveling back and forth to the first weekend of Sharon Zeugin's 3-part workshop in Houston. I did not realize that this was the second book in a series until it abruptly ended without divulging the identity of the "Peacemaker". This master manipulator appeared to be an intimate of both the King and the Kaiser, and he sought peace at any price. His original plan would have allowed England to regain her American colonies in exchange for letting Germany have dominion over the rest of Europe. When this plot was discovered, and the war began anyway, he continued his machinations by using journalists to undermine public support for the conflict, and even going so far as to murder anyone, even a friend, who might threaten to expose him.
The main characters are the Reavley siblings: Joseph who is an army chaplain based in Flanders; Judith a volunteer ambulance driver; and Matthew an intelligence officer. Much of the story centers on Joseph's ethical need to find out who drowned an arrogant, thoroughly despicable reporter. He finally manages to solve this mystery--much to his sorrow--while also discovering that everything is not as black and white as he had once thought.
The author has done an excellent job of conveying the horror of the battlefield and also the comradeship of the ordinary soldiers. I'll be very interested to read future books in this series, as well as the one that came before this one--"No Graves As Yet".
I had prepainted the background (the blue and yellow) weeks before I even began this particular book. I have just been using the pages in the journal in order as I finish a book, and so far I'm amazed at how each background seems to fit the book, but this one is so on target that it's positively eerie. I enlarged the silhouettes of the soldiers from those on the book cover and painted them with Americana brand "Graphite" acrylic paint. This was also used for the battlefield; just dabbing it on with a 1/2" flat brush to create the rubble. The black text was written with a new pen that I bought yesterday to try out. It is a Pentel EnerGel, and it worked great on the acrylic paint. The white text was written with a Gelly Roll pen.