Book Review #7 – Private Peaceful

It’s been so long since I posted a book review, but after reading this book I felt compelled to write about it. I first read Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo when I was in secondary school, so about seven or eight years ago now. A couple of weeks back, I suddenly remembered being really moved by this story and reading it in one sitting when I was younger, though I couldn’t remember the plot and what actually happens. I downloaded it onto my iPad right away as I wanted to re-read the story and see what the effect was now I’m older. Despite the book initially being aimed at children, I still think it’s suitable for any age group as the themes can be really appreciated by anyone.

Private Peaceful is told by soldier Thomas Peaceful, known as Tommo by his family and friends, who is looking back on his life in the trenches of World War 1 in Belgium. The story charts eight hours in Tommo’s life, with each chapter bringing you closer to the present day creating an ominous feeling. The story begins when Tommo is a young boy starting school for the first time where you are introduced to his older brother Charlie and a girl they meet for the first time there, Molly. The trio become extremely close until the reality of war hits the small town they live in. Charlie and Tommo are inseparable, so when soldiers are being recruited, it is inevitable that they both should go together.

I don’t want to give any more away and ruin it for you, but the story is so moving and actually brought me to tears a few times. Private Peaceful epitomizes the themes of war, loss and the unfair treatment of soldiers in the World Wars which I found really powerful and poignant. After finishing it, I felt like I just needed a good cup of tea and just to relax while thinking over what I’d read; Private Peaceful is definitely not just a book you can read and forget about a week later. Morpurgo writes many children’s books but I think this one is probably the most tough, in contrast to many children’s books who’s plots can sometimes seem a little patronising in their simplicity. 

Private Peaceful has been adapted for theatre and in 2012 was turned into a film. Although I am desperate to watch it, I’m worried it will spoil the book for me. I would highly recommend this to any age group, whether you like war stories or not. It’s filled with love, happiness, loss, joy, warmth and fear, so make sure to grab a few tissues first! 

Have any of you read this book or seen the film?