by Mildred Aldrich
An unique civilian eye-view of the First World War, depicting, through letters, a fascinating before and after picture of a French community in disarray.
Writing to her friends back home in the spring of 1914, Mildred Aldrich, an American expatriate, describes her idyllic life in Huiry, the minutiae of her farmhouse and her daily life. Ignoring the panicked pleadings of friends that she return to the United States as the political situation in Europe darkens, Aldrich stands firm in her decision to stay in France and her village, come what may. As war breaks out she looks out over Marne valley at the armies moving, hears the cannonade in the distance and watches as soldiers of all nations march down the lanes in turn.
Aldrich’s narrative goes on to describe the subsequent events of the war until America’s entry into the fray and, returning to her narrative after the war, she described the process of rebuilding local life.