Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

How to assemble your very own WWI novel:

Choose a minimum of four:

•Grand Edwardian country house
•Upstairs/downstairs ensemble cast
•Forbidden cross-class romance (highly recommended)
•Multiple adult daughters of peer
•‘Home by Christmas’ said poignantly by the guy who dies
•PTSD, except the only symptoms are night terrors and the inexplicable, irrepressible need to obliquely reference dead war pals and the sound of the guns in every conversation
•Haunting memory of young man shot at dawn for cowardice
•‘Going over the top’
•Beautiful woman nurse constantly sexually harassed
•Shoehorned references to major events
•Egregious period colloquialisms chosen at random from online ‘Edwardian slang dictionary’
•Plucky young upper-class woman volunteers to do an un-glamorous job against her father’s wishes
•Plucky young lower-class person finally useful for something other than cleaning the toilets of aristocrats, however still must contend with snobs who refuse to believe their usefulness until critical moment
•Main character feels unwarranted responsibility for death of side character
•Blurb on front of cover mentions Downton Abbey
•Blurb on back of cover begins with some variation of ‘In the summer of 1914…’ and ends with ‘and nothing would ever be the same again’ (essential)

Choose at least one:

•Woman’s fiance killed
•Man watches good friend die in battle
•Matron’s five sons killed
•Permanent disabling injury
•Some idiot sticks their head over the parapet and gets shot

If you want to be really hip and daring, choose no more than one: 

•Homosexuality
•Facial disfigurement

Now, for your cover, pick at least one (remember, number of overlaid images inversely proportional to quality of book):

•Country house
•Silhouettes of soldiers
•Detail of uniform
•Old letters
•High-fashion Edwardian dresses
•Poppies
•But you’ll probably do best with the country house. Just give them some country houses. Motherfuckers love country houses.

Congrats you did it. You did the thing.

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