The Forbidden Zone

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Mary Borden is one of those women who help make the early 20th century such an exciting, terrible time to be alive. Born in 1886 the daughter of a Chicago mining millionaire, Mary married a British missionary and moved to London where she raised three daughters. She started writing and had a brief affair with modernist writer and painter Wyndham Lewis (founder of the Vorticist group and a man who Hemingway described as having “the eyes of an unsuccessful rapist”). During most of the #FirstWorldWar Borden funded and ran a highly efficient field hospital caring for French combatants – and found time for a passionate affair with a British officer (who she subsequently married after divorcing the long-suffering missionary). All this – and a wonderful, lyrical, gritty writer and poet! (Her second World War, serving in Palestine and North Africa, was equally exciting.) The Forbidden Zone is a collection of short stories concerned with life in wartime France and caring for the wounded. Most of the pieces were drafted in brief respites from work; the whole is both a bewitching portrayal of the ugliness, ironies (and sometimes awful beauty) of war – and an intelligent and authentic description of wartime nursing. Perhaps the most powerful piece is Moonlight, in which the writer lies awake in her tent listening to the whimpering of a dying man in a nearby ward. “Pain is a harlot in the pay of War … she consorts with decay, is addicted to blood, cohabits with mutilations … She is shameless. She lies in their beds all day. She lies with the Heads and the Knees and the festering Abdomens … she lies beside them, to tease them with her excruciating caresses, her pinches and twinges that make them moan and twist in sleep … she lies there to spoil their dreams, when they dream of their women and little children, of their mothers and sweethearts … “ #amwriting #writinginspiration #amresearchingformynovel #WW1 #GreatWar #modernliterature

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About Hannah

Author of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, films, book and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.
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