Three fifteen year old girls are attending boarding school in England when World War I begins. Their brothers are sent to the front, and the three look for ways to contribute to the war effort themselves.

They set up a station canteen in France to serve food to the soldiers who pass through. As the fighting escalates, their station becomes a transport point for the wounded, and in increasingly dire conditions the girls exhaust themselves to make these men a little more comfortable and give them a little more hope.

In such horrific circumstances the heroism, companionship and respect between the men and women is edifying. The author conveys this beautifully without glorifying war itself, but also without the bitterness and resentment that robs heroism of its rightful honour.

Years of history lessons can’t teach the gratitude and admiration for our ANZAC ancestors that this novel inspires. (…even if you don’t have ANZAC ancestors – Australian and New Zealand Army Corps serving in WWI – their story is well worth hearing.)

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...