If you have any thoughts on the December 2016 stories, or if you wish to publish a review of any or all of the stories, please post them here below in the form of a comment.

11 thoughts on “Time to post your reviews of the December 2016 CW competition stories.

    1. Thank you for your reviews Peter.
      I hadn’t really considered a protagonist.
      I’d thought about it … a letter to Sam from home revealing all, and the opportunity for Sam to dispatch Alfie under cover of war, but I had used that scenario a month or two ago.
      On the other hand, plenty of men in the village would have sufficient reason to hate Alfie enough for him to have lost his life in a ‘friendly fire’ incident. But how many of the other men would have known about the infidelity of their own wife.
      Unless, of course, the village was running with ginger offspring. 🙂


  1. Thank you for your very kind comments. It has been some time since I entered and I feel pleased to have done so well and am especially grateful for your comments here. I struggled with this as I decided to use an historical person as my basis and then had to fit facts that I hadn’t planned on, but I think having the three boys, one in the Navy and one in the Army and another itching to fly created some poetic balance.

    The historical person is the poet, Wilfred Owen, whose poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est,” I teach each year in my English class while I am teaching the same students about World War I in European History class. That his mother received news of his death as the armistice bells were ringing is historically accurate and strikingly ironic.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One of my NYRs is to post my comments timeously, so:

    This was my 5 pointer because of the sustained quality of the prose. The narrative voice – that of a mother of 3 boys – is perfectly nuanced throughout: utterly convincing, sadly resigned, stoically understated. There is so much here! Wilfred’s death heralded as much by the bells of peace as by the dreaded telegram; the anguish of neighbours; irrevocable, unimaginable upheaval; Harold at sea, W in the trenches, young Colin desperate to be in the air; Mary’s place as the only daughter…
    Just so sparingly well written, e.g. Harold’s peril…a heavy rock in my apron pocket…a sharp rock under my pillow.

    – my 3 pointer, a poignant and heartwarming tale of 6 year old Leslie’s secret for Christmas Day. Perfectly characterised and drenched in atmosphere.

    – 1 point from me for this sad, striking tale. Really skilful characterisation: we see Sam’s daily routine, the home and dialogue he shares with Fanny their naivety (his patriotism and her ill-formed view of the matter: “we’ve had wars before…it’s a job for the army”)

    I found the enthusiastic use of the exclamation mark a bit intrusive – for me, this detracted from the old-photo sepia tone that you had established. And would a butcher have a car in 1914??!

    In the final section, the striking change of tone works very well to summarise the subsequent fates of Fanny and Samuel Jnr.

    Opens with and continues to give the reader very accomplished descriptions of the night sky and the morning, and the dialogue is very well-handled: struck me as very natural, which is no mean feat. I just couldn’t decide – being an ornery old humbug – whether this slipped over from feel-good heartwarmer to sentimental easy fix…

    I liked the idea of the flashback from classroom to trenches, but ultimately felt no real sense of place or tension. Capt Brown’s trot out into No Man’s Land felt too sudden/bald to me: I don’t think he would have “strolled” around the trench in confusion!.
    You built up skilfully to the incident between JT and “that German soldier” (though, as he spares him, I do find his subsequent guilt a bit disproportionate) – to a good climax and a positive ultimate “message.”

    -my HM – subtle construction of central character, her current situation and her back story, so that the first section ends with much expectation/anticipation regarding those “events some three years past now…”. Indeed, I thought your gradual drip-feed of snippets of info very effective and the story very well crafted.

    I am sorry, Peter, that for me your meticulous research and impressive historical knowledge do not engage me in this story: Frank’s journal has the tone of a factual report or a textbook so that your characters simply do not come to life for me.

    An interesting central idea but I found none of the characters was particularly developed or differentiated.

    Dearest Aileen Darling Johnny
    Another interesting central idea, juxtaposing the two letters; again, as with Colmore, I just thought the characters needed more development.

    A vivid snapshot of lives affected by the war – but feels rushed/incomplete/under-developed

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all your reviews, Seadams, and yes, with reference to my story, I cannot disagree with you. I didn’t have sufficient time over the Christmas period so it was rushed/incomplete/underdeveloped.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Seadams.
      Thank you for your helpful reviews, and in particular your kind appreciation of my entry, ‘The Village Pals’.
      Your point about the exclamation marks is valid (though I could only find four), and I do admit to agonising at times over their usage. In future I shall make the effort to try to make the emphasis by a more careful choice of words and phraseology rather than falling back on the (often incorrect) use of the exclamation mark.
      On the question of Alfie Baker’s mode of transit when he met Fanny in Ramsbottom, I offer the following by means of explanation.
      a) The vehicle was an early Ford Model T that had been left to him by a rich aunt in her will a few months earlier.
      b) The word ‘car’ was a typo and should have been ‘cart’, referring to the horse drawn vehicle that he used when driving around the village delivering meat to his outlying customers.
      Or finally,
      c) I had not researched the period properly and had therefore made a
      mistake, or if you prefer it, committed a boo-boo.
      On consideration of the above, a) is too fanciful, and b) is a blatant attempt to grab at a passing bale of straws.
      Which leaves only one possible and plausible explanation i.e. a tiny error managed to escape the eagle eye of my proof-reader, who I hasten to add, is no longer in my employ.

      p.s. Even Fanny’s country bus ride was a touch ahead of it’s time for the period, but the chain on her bike had broken, so short of walking across the fields a bus was her only option. 


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