One glorious summer by Richard Jones

A look at Testament Of Youth (M)…
VERA Brittain was lumbered with a kitbag of bad luck during the middle of World War 1 when she was in her 20s.
Raised in an affluent middle-class household Vera (Alicia Vikander) had nothing more to do than play the piano and study upstairs in her bedroom.
Nonetheless despite the objections of her conservative parents (Dominc West and Emily Watson) Vera was determined to get into Oxford, where women’s colleges were relatively new, and become a writer.
Director James Kent takes us through the glorious summer of 1914 when Vera’s brother’s friend, Roland Leighton (Kit Harington), comes to stay at the Brittain country house.
The boys and Vera go swimming in a lake near the Brittain family house and discuss their interests. Roland is supportive of Vera’s ambitions as he, too, wants to become an author.
They become inseparable before the war intervenes.
Vera has made it to Somerville Hall, a women’s college run by an imperious Miranda Richardson. She succeeds, even though Vera answers the Latin entrance exam. paper in German.
The Leighton family are far more cosmopolitan than the Brittains with Roland’s mother (Anna Chancellor) a well-known romantic novelist.
But the war is upon them all and young men from every walk of life – including Roland and Vera’s brother and friends – join the Army as nationalist fervour sweeps Great Britain.
Suddenly all Vera’s fancies from that summer of 1914 are swept away. Her ambition to become a writer, complete further study and even the possibility of a future as Roland’s wife get thrust aside.
Vera leaves Oxford in 1915 and joins the war effort as a nurse. She’s sent to the mud and gore of France and even at one stage nurses wounded German officers in a medical hut.
Vera and Roland write to each other regularly and they pore over every paragraph analyzing each other’s feelings.
They exchange poems, as verse seems an ideal way to express their deep longing for each other.
Interestingly since its release in 1933, Vera Brittain’s book Testament Of Youth has never been out of print.

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