05 May 2013

We Shall Not Sleep by Anne Perry, Book review

Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (April 10, 2007)
ISBN-13: 978-0345456601


Anne Perry’s magnificent Victorian mysteries established her as one of the world’s best known and loved historical novelists. Now, in her vividly imagined World War I novels, Perry’s talents “have taken a quantum leap” (The Star-Ledger), and so has the number of her devoted readers. We Shall Not Sleep, the final book in this epic series featuring the dedicated Reavley family, is perhaps the most memorably enthralling of all Perry’s novels.

After four long years, peace is finally in sight. But chaplain Joseph Reavley and his sister Judith, an ambulance driver on the Western Front, are more hard pressed than ever. Behind the lines, violence is increasing: soldiers are abusing German prisoners, a nurse has been raped and murdered, and the sinister ideologue called the Peacemaker now threatens to undermine the peace just as he did the war.

Then Matthew, the third Reavley sibling and an intelligence expert, suddenly arrives at the front with startling news. The Peacemaker’s German counterpart has offered to go to England and expose his co-conspirator as a traitor. But with war still raging and prejudices inflamed, such a journey would be fraught with hazards, especially since the Peacemaker has secret informers everywhere, even on the battlefield.

For richness of plot, character, and feeling, We Shall Not Sleep is unmatched. Anne Perry’s brilliantly orchestrated finale is a heartstopping tour de force, mesmerizing and totally satisfying.

 (1914 - Duty calls)

My thoughts:

I literally stumbled on this novel whilst researching WW1's German invasion of Belgium's coastal area not  knowing it was Book 5 of Anne Perry's fictional WW1 novels.
Anne Perry exemplify these rare authors who subtly brings you up to date on characters giving you the opportunity to catch up, very much appreciated in this case.

In 'We Shall Not Sleep' her mesmerizing narration brings us face to face with the horror of four years of trench warfare. It is now Octobre 1918, the Flanders fields resemble a waste land unimaginable and the stench of death hangs everywhere. Casualties are staggering, the face of the world changed for ever.

The 1914 flooding of the land effected by the Belgians as they opened the dikes have accomplished their purpose and slowed down the enemy's advance. Trench warfare betwixt Allied and the now dispirited enemy armies is still raging on, yet only a few days remains before the much anticipated Armistice.

Faced with barren towns, looted treasures and the ravage of constant bombardment, the mind boggling butchery of old fashioned military tactics have taken an unprecedented toll on both Armed forces and hapless civilians. Tension is high and for the Reavley family, the end cannot come soon enough. They paid a high price in trying to stop the cunning 'Peacemaker'. His failed attempt to sway the outcome of the war has only made him more determined to clout the upcoming Armistice by enabling the merging of Great Britain and Germany in one major imperial power and allowing the rise of Germany once again within a few years.

As a chaplain Joseph Reavley has seen his share of horrors and know his world will never be the same. The youngest of the Reavley's siblings and a volunteer ambulance driver, Judith has found a purpose in her life these last four years and wonders what awaits women like herself upon returning home. Matthew Reavley is a high ranking SIS man who believes he still has a chance to stop the traitor by helping the Peacemaker's German counterpart to cross the lines and expose the wily conspirator to the Prime minister.

But when a vicious murder is discovered nearby at the front, the Reavley's siblings face the knowledge the Peacemaker's has conspirators everywhere and he will stop at nothing to retrieve the treaty signed by the Kaiser, tangible proof of his ignominy and hidden by their father somewhere at home.

Leaving no dire aspect of such an horrendous timeline, the talented Anne Perry weaves a fast paced thriller that will have you turn page after page. As she describes the expectation of the upcoming Armistice, readers come to realize her daunting fictitious narrative sustain neither victor or loser, but reflects only a most humbling experience, that of spending a few pragmatic hours amongst those who gave it all in the name of honour and valour almost 100 years ago.

(1918 - The end is near)

Let me close this review with an excerpt of the 'measure' of a brave soldier:

'My grandfather fought Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. My father and I fought in the Crimea, battle of the Alma, 1854. I was twenty three. Heard General Campbell tell us: "There's no retreat from here men. You must die where you stand". He died in my arms. My son lost his legs in the Zulu Wars, 1879, at Rorke's Drift - hundred and thirty nine of us against five thousand Zulus. My grandson fell at Passchendaele. Fifty thousand we lost in the first day. ...It's not winning or losing that says who you are, it's the courage that makes you stand fast, with your eyes forward, and fight for what you love.'

For Arnold and all those who fought in the trenches, 5 Stars (and worth so much more!) 

About the Author:

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. 
Visit her website (HERE)

And for those interested in WW1 events don't miss Anne's Trench warfare notes (HERE)

Note: You know the drill...Unless specifically stated, all opinions reflected are solely my own and were not requested!


  1. What a wonderful book review! Thanks for sharing. It's not the sort of book I'd usually pick up but it sounds engrossing. x

  2. Thank you Gillian! This subject is very close to my heart and I appreciate your support! Do give it a try (and unlike me, start at the beginning!).
    God Bless,

  3. I appreciate your reviews, too. You open up my eyes to authors I haven't read before! Thanks...and HUGS!


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