Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham

(Cover picture from Penguin)

Peter Yeldham is an Australian screenwriter and author. Some time ago, I bought Barbed Wire and Roses, added it to my TBR pile and promptly forgot about it. Recently, I saw he has a new book out (Glory Girl) and thought I should read his work before I go and buy another of his books.

I feel a bit bad now that I’ve had this sitting on my shelves for so long. It’s a great book and if I was looking for similarities, I say he’s like Bryce Courtenay in telling a good Aussie story (but his books are not as thick as Courtenay’s- good for bedtime reading)!

Barbed Wire and Roses is not a romantic novel, as you might think from the title (it does have romance, but that’s certainly not the focus). It tells the story of Stephen Conway, who eagerly volunteered to join the army in 1914, fought in Gallipoli and France and then died at the end of the war. Or so that’s what his family thinks. Patrick, his grandson, goes to France to retrace his grandfather’s footsteps on the way to a meeting with the BBC in London but there’s a lot more to this than first thought. Enter diaries, misplaced letters, a gold digging granddaughter and a romance- you’ll find Stephen’s plight a lot more than first thought.

This book enters into topics that are generally not told in war stories (or skimmed over)- I found some of the treatments and outcomes truly awful. Stephen is portrayed well as a character, but Joanna (Patrick’s wife) is a hastily sketched caricature and it’s hard to care what she thinks or what happens to her. Patrick’s romance wasn’t really necessary to the story, but I can understand why it was there to draw parallels.

I’m eagerly awaiting Glory Girl on my bookshop shelves now!

8.5 out of 10

3 thoughts on “Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham

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  1. I really enjoyed this when I read it a couple of years ago. I have read another one of his books as well, and just bought Glory Girls!

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