Reviewed by Becca
TITLE: A Time to Keep
AUTHOR: Morgan Cheshire
PUBLISHER: Manifold Press
LENGTH: 280 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017
It’s 1909, and on leaving the workhouse young lovers Ben and Matthew must find their places in the world. Luck brings jobs and somewhere to live, but their security is short-lived when England begins to prepare for war. Ben can’t wait to go to France and fight for his country, and it isn’t long before Matthew receives the news he’s dreaded. Ineligible for military service Matthew must stay at home, his life disintegrating – until, years later, the arrival of a stranger helps him learn to live for the future again.
When I think of all the soldiers who have fought for our countries, it saddens me. So many have lost so much. Including their lives. And the families that are home never quite recover, no matter how much time goes by. Whether it be son, daughter, mom, dad, some other relative, or in this case, a partner. It’s devastating. But we have to hold on to all the good we had with them while we had them. This book was exceptional. It depicts the life of two very young lovers as they start their journey and live their lives. From their rocky start trying to make it on their own, to one leaving for war, and the other having to deal with the loss. The story weaves you on a path full of love, hope and loss in a very….almost poetic way.
Matthew and Ben have just left a workhouse, where they have been together most of their lives, at the young age of 16. They are determined to find work of their own and stay together for the rest of their lives. They meet a few kind strangers on their way and after helping save the life of a young girl, they are offered kindness in the form of work they are looking for. Along with a home and a chance to live the dream they have. As time moves on, Ben ends up joining the military, in spite of Matthew hating him leaving. But he feels he’s doing right for his country. Due to an injury, Matthew can’t go and he is lost as he loses his home. One horrible day, Matthew gets the news he feared and it takes everything he has to go on. But he fights to live for another day, even though he becomes very closed off, only speaking to those he has to. One day, though, years later, a military friend of Ben’s, comes into Matthew’s life and Matthew has to make the choice to finally let go and move on to a new future.
I don’t think there is a sweeter pair than Ben and Matthew. They complimented each other so well. Matthew stood up for Ben at their workhouse, causing his injury, and Ben took care of him. They were always there for each other and vowed to each other they always would be. They were so different though. Matthew was quiet and withdrawn, but so nurturing. Ben was the outgoing one, full of life and vigor, everyone drawn to him. But without Matthew he was lost. Matthew was the political one, nose always in a paper when he wasn’t working. Ben was the poet, the dreamer. They often had fights about the news. Matthew knew what was coming. Ben tried to deny it, but the more friends he developed in certain circles, he knew too, that it would be time for war. When it came time for Ben to leave, it broke my heart. Matthew trying to cope each day waiting for letters from Ben to know he was alive and hopefully coming home to him soon. I really lost it when Matthew got the bad news. Having military in my family, I know what it’s like to lose a loved one and feeling the weight of Matthew’s grief tore me apart. It takes years and a lot of persistence, but a comrade of Ben’s brings life back into Matthew and puts him back on a good path to a new future. And though I cried at the loss of Ben, I was so happy to see Matthew happy again.
Such a beautiful story. The loss in it is devastating, yes, but there’s always hope somewhere in the horizon. Matthew had to learn to hold on to Ben and his memories but learn life is meant to be lived. It’s a great story to read and I hope you all take the time to read it.