“Alice Winn’s In Memoriam—a love story set during the tumult of the First World War—came roaring out of the starting gates and straight into the bestseller lists. In it, two heartsick schoolboys are forced to confront their feelings for one another amid the horror of war. In it, two heartsick schoolboys are forced to confront their feelings for one another amid the horror of war. It’s been endorsed by such literary grandees as Maggie O’Farrell and Garth Greenwell; TheNew York Times has also described it as both ‘devastating’ and ‘tender'” Read more...
“In Memoriam is set in an idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. The protagonists are Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood. Gaunt is half-German, and has always been a bit out of step with his peers. He’s against the outbreak of war; he’s not actually a pacifist, but he thinks this particular war is going to be bad for the empire. His closest, maybe his only, friend at school is this incredibly popular boy, Ellwood, who is ethnically Jewish but culturally Christian, and is the opposite. He’s romantic and excited about the war. When I was describing the children from Edwardian school books, who can’t wait to go and fight when they grow up? He’s like that.
So there’s this conflict between them in their friendship, where they completely disagree about what this war means for their future. The rest of the school agrees with Ellwood. They’re very excited when this war breaks out.
The other major plot point is that they are in love with each other, but neither of them realises; they think it’s unrequited. And they aren’t able to communicate how they feel because it’s 1914. Anyway, they both end up at the front together, where the love story comes to a head because everything becomes so raw and intense. The question becomes not whether they love each other, but whether they will both survive.”