Fierce Imaginings, Rachel Mann

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Reviewed by Kizzia Mildmay, November 2020.

This book, first published in 2017, is about the Great War but it is not a history book. It is also not a book about theology, poetry or literature, although it contains elements of each and its author is a writer, poet, and an Anglican priest. The blurb calls it “a compelling meditation on themes of remembrance in today’s society” and it is, but even that description does not do it justice.

This book is filled with compassion, understanding, and an intense humanity that takes the reader to the heart of what remembrance has been, is now, and might be in the future. It questions many things, sometimes provides answers, but most crucially it asks the reader to think about deeply emotive subjects in a calm, careful and kind way. The prose is richly poetic (unsurprisingly) without being obscure and the range of ideas and experiences that are explored over its 177 pages leave you with the impression you have read a much longer book.

It goes, to borrow a phrase from its pages, “in search of the human” and feels both prescient and necessary in our fractured, uncertain world. It is an emotional and deeply worthwhile read.