On the blog: Blasted Things by Lesley Glaister
The ‘new normal’ is something we’re all wondering about during these peculiar and confusing times, but we’re hardly the first people in history to have made such speculations. Let’s jump back a century to 1920, to a Britain utterly changed and depleted by the shock of the Great War. The whole population must have been wondering if and how and when they’d get back to normal – and when they did, what shape this ‘new normal’ would be.
In Blasted Things, by living through the characters of Clem and Vincent, I’ve explored not only the obvious effects of war (both positive and negative): the horror, the trauma, the loss, the adventure, the widening of horizons; but more importantly the deeper ramifications: the subtle twisting of psyches, distortions of personality, the confusing growth of new desires and of attitudes overturned. Remember that all this was long before the notion of PTSD. Rather, the prevailing attitude in the post-war period was of the stiff-upper-lip/grin-and-bear-it/skeletons- in-the-cupboard, variety.
What I find most fascinating to imagine are the lasting effects of these buried feelings and the notion that by suppressing (rather than expressing) them they’re given the power to affect the next generation. And this makes for a sort of inherited trauma, which ripples down through the years. The aftermath of trauma interests me – my own family dynamic, I believe, was warped by my father’s suffering in World War 2 (he was a Far East Prisoner of War) which is a subject I am returning to in the novel I am just beginning to write, which will follow the fortunes of the children we see born in Blasted Things.
In Blasted Things we see how Clementine and Vincent are damaged in different ways both by the war and by their disappointing return from it. And when they meet and are drawn inexplicably together there is nothing the least bit conventional or expected about the result!