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Like many young and idealist Australian men, Stephen Conway rushed to enlist in the ‘the war to end all wars’ in 1914. After a hasty marriage, Stephen leaves his new wife with a baby on the way and is shipped to Gallipoli. Very soon, though, the promise of adventure and glory of battle vanish completely as the reality of war sets in.
After four nightmarish years, Stephen is the lone survivor of his platoon fighting in the trenches of France’s bloody battlefields. Traumatised and exhausted he inexplicably disappears and the official record of his life comes to an abrupt end – that is until his grandson, Patrick, discovers his diary more than 80 years later.
This personal account of the horrors of World War I propels Patrick on a journey to uncover the truth of his grandfather’s fate – which is more disturbing than he could have ever imagined.
Set against true historical events, Barbed Wire and Roses deftly brings together past and present, ancestor and descendant, in a gripping tale of war and its aftermath.
‘The master of the Australian historical blockbuster.’
Candace Chidiac – May 17, 2016:
Barbed Wire and Roses is a complex and fascinating novel centering on one soldier’s experience in World War 1. Stephen Conway goes to fight, like many young Australian men, with the expectation that it will be a great adventure. Soon he discovers the horrors of war, and experiences physical and psychological trauma beyond the imagination. More than 80 years later his grandson discovers his journal and scours the pages, reliving his grandfather’s experiences. The slow discovery of what happened to Stephen is a tear-jerking, harrowing experience. It is also a beautiful one, connecting generations that were torn apart by the evils of war. I loved it because of the stark differences in the lives of the two relatives, and how informative novels like this can be about how pointless and horrific war is and how much we owe to those who sacrificed their lives for all Australians.
Not that bad