Ladysmith, by Giles Foden
The year is 1899, and Boer forces have surrounded the small South African town. As shells and shrapnel rain down, British soldiers and townsfolk dig themselves in. Waiting for rescue, they try to keep up their spirits with parties and cricket matches. But General Buller's relief column can't break through. All that comes is danger, disease and starvation. Foden's spellbinding narrative introduces a cast of characters ranging from Irish Republican renegades to London literary editors to some of the most famous faces of the twentieth century. And at the centre is young Bella Kiernan, for whom the long siege represents an unexpected freedom: a chance to break old loyalties and establish new loves. Inspired by the letters of the author's great-grandfather, a British trooper, this is a powerful fictional recreation of the first modern war. With its internment camps, war-correspondents and cine-cameras, the siege and its aftermath sowed the seeds of conflicts to come.
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