Why we love it: Mary-Anne O’Connor writes a great love story, and War Flower is no exception. It is a story of love, war, and forgiveness set against the political upheaval of the swinging sixties in Sydney and the killing fields of Vietnam. People who come through war in one piece are called ‘warflowers’ – but can anyone come through a war truly unscathed?
It’s the 1960s in Sydney, change and revolution are in the air. But it’s hard to be part of it when you’re a
sheltered Catholic schoolgirl, like Poppy Flannery.
Poppy and her twin sister Rosemary are in their last year of school, desperate to experience more of what life has to offer them. So when the chance of a trip to Surfers Paradise comes along, it seems too good to be true, and it will have life changing consequences for both of them. Rosemary will meet Angus, and Poppy will finally get to be with the boy she secretly loves, Ben Williamson.
It all seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, it is.
The glimpse of a liberated life is stolen away when Angus and Ben are sent to Vietnam: one bound by inescapable family tradition, and one the victim of the subscription lottery.
Soon this war that is being fought thousands of kilometres away will have a profound impact on the twins’ lives, from the wild sixties and all it entails, to protest marches, partying, and music festivals. The war in Vietnam is also vividly described by Angus and Ben, but also through Thuy, a native of Vietnam and refugee of the war. We see the brutal effect war can have, and the twins must decide how far they will go for the men they adore – and if love really is all you need.
Love stories set against the background of war are definitely Mary-Anne’s speciality. Her first book, Gallipoli Street, was set during WW1, while her second book Worth Fighting For portrayed the Second World War. It seems only fitting, then, that her latest Aussie drama tackles the Vietnam War, and it’s telling that she comes from a family of war veterans. This proximity to the history comes through in her writing – it’s powerful, fully realised, and empathetic.
This is a timeless tale of the enduring power of love and understanding, and the effect war can have on so many lives for so many years. It’ll make you nostalgic for the 60s, even if you weren’t around to experience it in the first place!
About the author
Mary-Anne O’Connor’s first two novels, Gallipolli Street and Worth Fighting For have been bestsellers. Mary-Anne works in marketing and has a combined arts education degree with specialities in environment, music and literature. She works in marketing and co-wrote/edited A Brush with Light and Secrets of the Brush with Kevin Best. Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their adored dog Saxon.