Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Testament of Youth

What happens to women when the men are at war? If many of the most well-known film depictions were to be believed, the good women are left at home to keep house and wring their hands, to find new lovers, and grieve alone for families loved and lost. 
The bad women send ill-timed Dear John letters and distract men on the front with their feminine wiles, and use those same wiles to betray their country.
However, as James Kent’s new film adaptation of the much-loved memoir Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain proves, this is hardly close to the true extent of women’s experiences during periods of unrest. The daughter of a well-to-do family, the headstrong Brittain was determined to defy social expectation by fighting against the prescribed future of middle-class wifedom to pursue a more fulfilling literary career. 
Through pure grit and determination she secured a place at Oxford but part-way into her first term, her longed-for studies suddenly felt like a decadent luxury. As the First World War began to claim her closest male friends and relatives, she decided to join them, as near to the frontline as a woman could be, by abandoning her studies to become a nurse.

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