A MelanieM Review: Pack Up Your Troubles by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4. 75 stars out of 5

A collection of WWI stories from Charlie Cochrane.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE
An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND
A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION
And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

If you have ever read any of Charlie Cochrane’s historical novels, you know not only of her intense interest in WWI but her incredible ability to bring it vividly to life. To take not only the years that encompass WWI but those that preceded it as well as the years afterward where the impact on the survivors who came in many forms, and those who remembered shaped the course of many nations and weave it memorably into her stories.

When it comes to WWI and the men who went to battle, whether they were officers or those on the front line, she takes us into their lives in the trenches.  We feel their fear, their hopes, the lives shattered in a split second and get that war is ugly, anonymous, and death has many faces.  We feel both the intimacy of the men and their yearning for home.

And their fear for it as well.

All of that makes THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE my favorite story of the three. Five stars plus as it takes us directly into the battlefield as well as the mens live before and post war.  It’s grim, the men undergo live changing experiences, and loss.  The characters are people we hurt for, believe in, and finally feel relief and happiness there at the end.  It’s an amazing story and so well written you can almost hear the sounds of battle ringing in your ears.

Next up is my second  favorite, also because of the realism and ability of the author to open her character’s up and expose their vulnerabilities…to each other and her readers in such a way that’s touching and authentic given the circumstances.  Such a moving story.  Again 5 stars for HALLOWED GROUND.  The author got the inspiration from visiting a chapel and those details carry over into the story.

The stories go from the most grim and realistic working their way towards an almost supernatural story,  MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION, that’s hard to describe.  Here the author plays with the lines between the afterlife and the living and two soldiers from different eras with a mission to accomplish.  It’s lighter in tone with WWI still but for me, there were some missing elements as the end where we didn’t find out what happened to a character or two. So  the addition of this story with the other two just didn’t completely work for me.

Now I know from the author’s guest blog that the three stories titles all came from WWI poems.  If you’re interested, check out more of Charlie Cochrane’s guest post on the subject here.  I myself am a fan of Siegfried Sassoon, another WWI author and poet as well as Wilfred Owen who the author loves so much.

I highly recommend this remarkable collection as well as the other historical novels by Charlie Cochrane.  The author has a way of putting you next to these men, letting you feel their experiences, empathize with their conditions and lives that will leave an impact on you long after the book is over.

Cover art is  perfection with the use of poppies,a symbol of Remembrance from famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.  against the white background.  Blood red.  Haunting indeed.

Sales Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting
ASINB07CZKTX6G

Spotlight on Pack Up Your Troubles Series by Charlie Cochrane (special guest post)

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Pack Up Your Troubles

by

Charlie Cochrane

Published May 9th 2018 by Williams & Whiting

Available at Amazon | Goodreads

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host  Charlie Cochrane here today talking about her new collection of stories, Pack Up Your Troubles.  Welcome, Charlie!

♦︎

 

My interest in World War One – and more specifically, the service men and women whose lives and deaths were intertwined with the conflict – goes back to school days. The war poetry of Wilfred Owen was part of the syllabus for English secondary schools (it still is) and it really got to me. The power in the words was stunning and the sad, almost romantic story of a poet who died within weeks of the war ended was enthralling.  I’ll admit that I have almost no interest in the details of the action, which regiment fought where and when; it’s the people and their stories that continue to fascinate me.

That sense of the pity of war (and the ‘poetry in the pity’*) heavily influenced the first of the three stories in this anthology. I suspect This Ground which was Secured at Great Expense is one of the most sombre stories I’ve ever written, although I promise it has a happy ending. You could say that the story arc itself mirrors that of war – a sudden call to action, mistakes made and wrong strategies employed, times of inaction and false dawns, a move made at a venture that brings success. And – this is a really big confession – it’s the only story I’ve ever written that I planned out in advance and then wrote against that plan. (I’ll never do it again. Agony for a pantser like me.)

Hallowed Ground is much less intense in style, if no less serious in subject. It was inspired by the Museum of Army Chaplaincy just outside Amport. I have no idea why I hadn’t come across the place before, because it’s relatively local, to me but as soon as I found out about it I made an appointment to visit (you have to make an appointment because it’s on army land.) I spent a lovely hour there, having a private tour from the curator. Not long afterwards the words for Hallowed Ground just started to flow, as though my sub-conscious had been crafting the tale all the time. The story ends with the promise of a happy ending to come, even if that isn’t outworked in this tale: the two characters reappear as minor players in Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour.

The third story in Pack up Your Troubles is the joker in the pack. I’ve amalgamated my interest in the war poetry of one hundred years ago with my interest in modern war poetry (check out the work of Danny Martin) to create the two leading characters. So how can a WWI soldier and a modern one be thrown together? When they’ve both died in combat and are sent back to earth to be part of terrestrial special opps. It was fun to play with the boundaries between this life and the next, and even more so to explore the tension between obeying orders and being true to one’s heart. True love wins in the end, of course, but the path is a tricky one to tread.

Footnote:  my fascination with poetry appears in the three story titles. They’re all taken from WWI poems. The “pity” quote comes from Wilfred Owen himself.  “”My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”

About Pack Up Your Troubles

Pack up Your Troubles features three stories of love – won, lost and regained – against a backdrop of war.

THIS GROUND WHICH WAS SECURED AT GREAT EXPENSE

An officer thinks he finds love in the trenches, but is it really waiting for him on the home front?

HALLOWED GROUND

A doctor and an army chaplain spend the night in a foxhole and discover there’s hope even in the darkest situations.

MUSIC IN THE MIDST OF DESOLATION

And an old soldier discovers that there are romantic problems to solve even after you’ve cashed in your chips.

Info:

http://williamsandwhiting.com/books/pack-up-your-troubles-by-charlie-cochrane/

About the Author

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Biog and links:

Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Blog http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com/ and https://charliecochrane.wordpress.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliecochrane

GR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane