Shelf Control #142: The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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Title: The Foreshadowing
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Published: 2005
Length: 304 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

It is 1915 and the First World War has only just begun.

17 year old Sasha is a well-to-do, sheltered-English girl. Just as her brother Thomas longs to be a doctor, she wants to nurse, yet girls of her class don’t do that kind of work. But as the war begins and the hospitals fill with young soldiers, she gets a chance to help. But working in the hospital confirms what Sasha has suspected–she can see when someone is going to die. Her premonitions show her the brutal horrors on the battlefields of the Somme, and the faces of the soldiers who will die. And one of them is her brother Thomas.

Pretending to be a real nurse, Sasha goes behind the front lines searching for Thomas, risking her own life as she races to find him, and somehow prevent his death.

How and when I got it:

I bought this book several years ago from an online resale site.

Why I want to read it:

After reading Midwinterblood, I just had to read more by this author. I’ve read a few of his books now, and to be honest, I haven’t loved any nearly as  much as I loved Midwinterblood — but I keep trying! The synopsis of The Foreshadowing definitely caught my attention. World War I books are always harrowing, and I like the sound of the supernatural element combined with the war story.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Flashback Friday: The Crimson Portait

Flashback Friday is my own little weekly tradition, in which I pick a book from my reading past to highlight — and you’re invited to join in!

Here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:

  1. Has to be something you’ve read yourself
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

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The Crimson Portrait by Jody Shields

(published 2006)

From Goodreads:

Spring 1915. On a sprawling country estate not far from London a young woman mourns her husband, fallen on the battlefields of what has been declared the first World War… But the isolated and eerie stillness in which she grieves is shattered when her home is transformed into a bustling military hospital to serve the war’s most irreparably injured. Disturbed by the intrusion of the suffering men and their caretakers, the young widow finds unexpected solace in the company of a wounded soldier whose face, concealed by bandages, she cannot see. Their affair takes an unexpected turn when fate presents her with an opportunity: to remake her lover with the unwitting help of a visionary surgeon and an American woman artist — in the image of her lost husband. Inspired by the little-known but extraordinary collaboration between artists and surgeons in the treatment of wounded men in the First World War, The Crimson Portrait peels back layers of suspense and intrigue to illuminate the abiding mysteries of identity and desire.

The Crimson Portrait is an atmospheric novel, creating the feeling of life during the Great War. I read this several years ago in the days before Downton Abbey, but now I can’t help but picture this book in a Downton-like setting, with stretchers full of hideously wounded young men filling the elegant rooms of the manor. In The Crimson Portrait, the wounded at this particular estate all suffer from facial injuries, from mild to complete disfigurement. We witness the early stages of facial reconstructive techniques, as doctors and artists work together to alleviate suffering and give these poor young soldiers a chance at something resembling a normal life. Meanwhile, the young widow of the estate sets in motion a plan to alleviate her heartbreak; it’s twisted and unhealthy, sure, but it’s also terribly sad and I couldn’t help but feel compassion for this young woman and her struggle to make sense of her loss.

I always find that WWI-era novels like this one, taking place in the most genteel of settings, pack a huge emotional punch, as they convey the utter horror of war and the mindless tragedy of the losses suffered — all in stark contrast to the lovely greenery of the English countryside. In The Crimson Portrait, we see the waste and ruin of a generation of young men, and the terrible, unending ache left to their survivors. It’s a beautifully written story, fascinating and sorrowful, and I recommend it for anyone interested in reading about that particular time in history.

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