In Memoriam by Alice Winn book review

The fourth book of the year that I chose to read solely because all of you suggested it so much was In Memoriam by Alice Winn. And yet again followers/readers/viewers – whatever you want to call yourselves – you’ve chosen another brilliant book!

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In Memoriam focuses on the stories of Ellwood and Gaunt, two young men during the early to mid-1910s. It’s made apparent from very early on that Ellwood and Gaunt have feelings for one another and begin to explore the idea that they are in fact gay. They then both join the war efforts and what then we read about their differing experiences and how they both come out the other side.

In Memoriam plot – 4.5/5

There’s so much to In Memoriam to unpack. The biggest overarching story is of Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood’s love for one another during a time when being gay was not only seen as wrong but seen as a sin and wrong by so many in popular society.

On top of this layer is the element that both Gaunt and Ellwood are both so young. They grow up in a public school for boys together and then choose to enlist to join the First World War. This can only create an incredibly complicated vat of difficult emotions to deal with.

In Memoriam deals with the impact of both this and the war of these two boys – how the events that happen to them during one of the worst wars in human history changed them and forced them to quickly grow up from naive boys to young men.

The story is heartbreaking, brilliant and utterly captivating. I said in one of my recent videos online that In Memoriam kept me reading in the bath for almost an hour, Which, for someone like me with the attention span of a fish, is quite the feat and just showed how interesting and enjoyable it was to follow these two characters’ stories.

In Memoriam characters – 4.5/5

If your story is going to be based around the effects an event has on your characters, then it will only work if you write some brilliant characters and Alice Winn has done that here. Gaunt and Ellwood, the two stars of the show are two truly deep and believable characters. Not only are they people you could actually see yourself being friends with (they joke with one another, they’re honest, they’re kind, they have genuine conversations) but they also have interchanging personalities.

What I mean by this is that in a weaker-written book, if you have “the nice guy”, he’ll often just always be nice. Everything he says or does is overly nice. Same if you’ve got the villain, they’re often overly hateful with their words and actions. However, if you write someone who is often mean but shows signs of kindness to one person or weakness for a specific reason, it shows a real maturity in character writing.

Gaunt and Ellwood aren’t simply human beings and Alice Winn does an incredible job of writing that.

Additionally, there are some other great supporting characters that Gaunt and Ellwood meet who are funny, kind, unlikeable and all ranges of different characteristics. Well done Winn!

In Memoriam final rating – 4.5/5

In Memoriam is a resounding success of a book if you’re looking for a real honest, human story. Gaunt and Ellwood are utterly brilliant characters and Winn’s ability to write believable, deep human beings is real talent. The plot will take you on an emotional journey that you may or may not come out the otherwise safely of. In Memoriam isn’t for the light-hearted – there’s death, heartbreak and constant reminders of the darkness of humanity. If you’ve got the resolve or are just emotionless like me though, I couldn’t recommend In Memoriam more, it’s utterly fantastic.

Buy a copy of In Memoriam

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