The Stars in the Night, by Clare Rhoden, is an accomplished novel, telling the story of two brothers, Harry and Eddie. Their destinies are changed forever when they decide to sign up for battle, first in Gallipoli then France. The brothers’ bond is fierce and Harry does everything in his power to keep Eddie safe—their presence to each other is integral to their sense of self and happiness. At the same time, Harry is very much in love with Nora who waits for him at home. The correspondence bolsters him as he wades through mud on incursions, watches his friends die, and tries to support everyone around him.
The Stars in the Night explores the bonds between people—how they give strength and meaning in the face of trauma. Harry’s knowledge that Nora waits for him allows him to endure the harsh conditions of the Western front. Having Eddie by his side does the same. In turn, the other soldiers admire Harry’s quiet strength. The visuals in this book are excellent, such as the visceral and harrowing battle scenes. The characterisation is well done. I found Harry and Eddie’s bond very moving along with Nora’s devotion. Without giving spoilers, we learn the extent of her love for Harry in a poignant scene later in the novel.
The author portrays trench warfare in sensory prose. This was done with great skill. I gained a deeper understanding of trench warfare in a physical, visual sense.
A well-told, insightful and ultimately uplifting novel.