Rating: 4 / 5
Mary-Anne O’Connor’s previous books have shown her to be a fine writer about Australians living through world wars. War Flower takes O’Connor into new territory, the 1960s and ’70s, with the impact of the Vietnam War, conscription and the relaxing of some of society’s rules that happened during this time.
We follow two convent-educated twins, Poppy and Rosemary, as they fall in love with young men going to Vietnam, and discover the temptations that exist beyond the strict walls of school and home as they head for university.
O’Connor deftly explores the effect of the war on the psyches of the young men and the impact at home, as well as a touching story about a Vietnamese refugee who finds a new life in Australia. Not everyone survives, but by the conclusion of the novel the sisters have lived, loved and triumphed against the odds.