I was very happy, for I was a full-blown soldier and was off to see the world. In those days I only asked for action and excitement, and if wars were to be fought, well, I would be the first to volunteer.
When Francis House enlists in the British Army in 1907, at the tender age of fifteen years and three months, he is not thinking about war. He imagines he simply wants to earn his stripes – to ease his traumatised father’s Boer War memories, or perhaps to please his favourite sister, Lily, with whom he has always dreamt of adventure.
But he soon discovers that simply becoming a soldier is not enough and, against the advice of his sergeant, he determines to seek out a real fight. Wading ashore at Gallipoli seven years later, Francis thinks he might just have found the site of his greatest opportunity. Here, he thinks, he might finally prove himself a man.
First, though, he must find his missing friend Berto.
He needs to say sorry.
He cannot yet imagine the ghosts that might stand in his way.
‘One of the most exquisite, raw, and outstanding books I have ever read.’
‘This is a remarkable book.’
The Empty Greatcoat
B format paperback