Original article written at Online Book Club

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Wars Among The Paines” by John M. Millar.]

The Wars Among The Paines, written by John M. Millar, revolves around the appalling ramifications of war, especially its devastating consequences on people’s lives. Although the author states that there are parts of the story that resemble his life, the novel is a piece of historical fiction. Millar explores the many ways in which wars impacted several generations of the Paine family.

The main character is Treat Paine (Robert Treat Paine II). At the beginning of the book, we learn that he is happily married and has a two-year-old daughter, Joan Mensch Paine, named after his late baby sister Joan, whom he adored. We also learn that he had not shared with his wife a good part of his past life; she believed that his mother was dead. When the protagonist has to attend his mother’s funeral, he decides to come clean because he wants his wife to accompany him. Ellie Schneider, Treat’s mother, died after five years in a catatonic state. The whole situation triggers a trip down memory lane as Treat candidly shares his past with his wife. On the road to Menschville to his mother’s funeral, he dives into the family saga.

What I most liked about this book was its form of narration; I found Millar’s storytelling compelling and moving. The author skillfully weaves Treat’s narrative, written using the first person, with several documents, including journals and letters, to convey this remarkable story. I enjoyed reading Treat’s journal, notably when he narrated how he met his wife, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He comes across as an honest and passionate man, and I appreciated it.

I also liked the story’s historical and cultural backdrop. The family saga gets narrated against vividly painted contexts of wars and revolutions. I particularly liked the narration of how one of the protagonist’s ancestors fought and survived World War I and the Spanish Flu Epidemic. The author provides several facts and figures, and I was surprised to learn that, from July 1917 through June 1919, the American Expedition Force (First Division) in France lost 18,000 men to the Spanish Flu. I also enjoyed the descriptions of D-Day, which happen at the protagonist’s father’s deathbed. In this heartwarming part, Treat and his estranged father bond as they talk about his days of service as a young soldier fighting WWII.

Lastly, I rate The Wars Among The Paines 4 out of 4 stars. I found no noteworthy negative points in this impressive book. The editing seemed clean and professional, with just a few mishaps. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, especially those who enjoy reading about wars. It is not a fast read, though, so if you don’t appreciate detailed narratives, you might not enjoy it as much.