Today I’m featuring wartime stories. This week is National Short Story Week (16th to 22nd November), an event I look forward to each year. I enjoy reading and writing this form of literature so I want to support this annual event by encouraging readers to dip their toes into short stories.
Several times this week, I’ve featured short stories from a variety authors and genres. Today, as I’ve said, it’s wartime stories. The First and Second World Wars immediately come to mind when anyone mentions wartime and these eras are included here. But, it seems that the world has always been at war and many tales reflect this. So I’ve also included stories from the ancient world and the English Civil War period.
‘Hush’, in the collection, Fall of Poppies – Stories of Love and the Great War, by Hazel Gaynor.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…
November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost. As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.
In this moving anthology centered around armistice day, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies. The book will be available in the U.S. in ebook and paperback from 1 March 2016, and will be published in the UK/Ireland in paperback from 28 April.
“The Red Fox” in Tales of Byzantium by Eileen Stephenson.
This second story in the collection is about a well known incident during the reign of Basil II (grandson of the above Constantine and Helena, so we know Helena got her way). It involves one of his soldiers, Manuel Comnenus, and the siege of Nicaea. He was sent to defend the city against a rebellious general. Although the city walls were strong and kept the general out, it was running low on food and the people were facing starvation. The story tells how Comnenus tricked the general into thinking the city had plenty of food, but that Comnenus just wanted to get out and back to Byzantium so he could free his (imaginary) brother from the emperor’s clutches. The general fell for the trick, Comnenus, his soldiers, and the people of Nicaea were able to leave the city in peace, and the general’s rebellion soon collapsed.
Hinky-Dinky, Parlay-Voo by Maybelle Wallis. A powerful tale of one man’s life in the trenches during World War I.
Keeping her Pledge by Dianne Ascroft
.June 1942: Pearl Grainger’s life is much more exciting and fun since the Allied troops arrived in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Although she has to steel her nerve to help her brother, Davy, on smuggling runs across the border to the Republic of Ireland, she’s out dancing several times each week and meets an RCAF seaplane navigator, Pilot Officer Chuck Walker who quickly becomes special to her.
The harsh realities of war are far removed from her until the evening an RCAF seaplane crashes into a field on her family’s farm. Watching her family attempt to rescue the crew from the burning wreckage, she realises it’s time she played her part in the war effort. Pearl resolves to volunteer at the nearby US Army Station Hospital.
It’s not an easy promise to keep. Pearl’s intentions are good but nothing in her life has prepared her for the horrific sights, sounds and smells of a hospital ward during wartime. And Chuck’s disapproval and jealousy don’t make it any easier.
Can Pearl keep her pledge to do her bit for the war effort without losing the man she loves?
A Cloak of Zeal by Mel Logue.
Set in 1642 at the battle of Edgehill.
This story is a short companion piece to one of the major characters in Logue’s series of novels, set during the English Civil War, and it’s the story of how one zealous and rather handsome young Puritan gentleman loses his faith, his beauty, but not, quite, his hope in the service of the Army of Parliament in the first battle of the wars.
Thanks for joining me this week as I’ve highlighted some of the many short stories that are available. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for this often overlooked story form.