Review: Rachel’s War

This biographical fiction was inspired by the real life of Rachel Pratt, an army nurse in WW1 stationed in France, who was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.

Exquisite illustrations by the author, Mark Wilson, allow our hearts to be moved by the descriptive images – some in colour, others in black fine line pen. These add to the narrative in their singular way.

Broken by grief after losing both parents in the Fitzroy River floods, Rachel was looked after by her brother Robert from age thirteen.

Getting strength from her mother’s words, be strong, work hard and everything will turn out fine, saw her return to school, determined to be somebody who could help others.

Graduating as a nurse, Rachel and her friend Elsie enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service.

This is her story of how bravery and courage overcame grief and saw RAchel begin her nursing career in a torn tent on the island of Lemnos, in Greece. She nursed Elsie through dysentery, due to the lack of sanitation and in fact, saved her life. They remained friends for life.

Rachel experienced the nightmare of Gallipoli, nursing enemy prisoners, then being evacuated to Egypt.

It was 1917 when the two friends were sent to France. There, the hospital was bombed and Rachel was wounded by shrapnel. Although it was never removed because it was too dangerous, it weakened her body but not her spirit.

Rachel nursed returned soldiers in a convalescence home she established in Melbourne.

This is one story that speaks for thousands of nurses who dedicated their lives to save others in WW1.

Nurses were not regarded as veterans by the Australian Government, therefore were denied the healthcare and benefits available to returning soldiers.

Title: Rachel’s  War
Author/Illustrator: Mark Wilson
Publisher: Hachette, $ 26.99
Publication Date: 26 May 2021
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780734420114
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture Book

November 9, 2021 at 11:36PM Anastasia Gonis