Ages: Adult (but easily a YA crossover)
Finished: Jan. 14, 2011
First Published: Oct. 26, 2010
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Genre: memoirs, biography, WWII, France,Canadian history
"I-is that you, Lieutenant?"
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
Reason for Reading: I love reading journals,memoirs and books based on them.
Wow! That one word could some up my complete review. Wow to the story! Wow to the graphics! Wow to the physical book itself!
Let's start with the book. The top and bottom halves are faux leather-look, the corners are rounded on the board and the pages. The pages are a nice thick quality paper and the book virtually looks like a moleskin journal. It even has an elastic band to hold it together. Beautiful book to behold!
The story is centred on the true life WW II experiences of the author's grandfather Lew Chantler and his best friend Jack. Little did they know it but they would end up being in the famous attack on the beaches of Normandy and be the Canadian division who recaptured Caen, France and ultimately ended up in the battle at Buron. The book spends plenty of time describing their training in England and life for the soldier not on active duty there before the meat of the story switches over to the Invasion at Normandy and the horrors of war. Examine the horror and tragedy of war the book certainly does while still recognizing the bravery and honour of the men who fought and those who died for their country. Taken up to the leadership level of majors, presidents, kings and those who plan the war, irony can often be found in Chantler's book. This is also the story of the bond of friendship and how one doesn't know how strong a friendship is until it is put to the test of a hardship.
The artwork is fantastic. The majority of the work is done in b/w drawing with one colour added and for the majority of the book that colour is khaki, obviously representing the army, but whenever a scene that mentions the upcoming war or its possible dangers a bit of red is added which provides an unsettling contrast. As the scenes become more dangerous the khaki is left behind and red becomes the one colour in each frame, easily representing war. But when it comes to the most barbaric scenes in the middle of battle with limbs flying and death everywhere, the scheme turns to red and a light terracotta colour and these colours clearly represent death and horror.
The author wrote his story using as source material, his grandfather's journal, letter's to his wife and letter's received by him from others. Chantler was also able to track down some remaining survivors/or their families who could help him with other source materials. A brutal yet compelling story of war. One that shows the horrors of war but also shows the bravery of those who fought and the respect we owe them. Scott Chantler has done his late grandfather proud. A compelling piece of Canadian history from the point of view of one Canadian who served his country.