Her Darling Boy

The letters of a mother, her beloved son, and the heartbreaking cost of Vimy Ridge

Reviewed by Joel Ralph

April 22, 2017

The story of Private Archibald John Polson, like many stories from the First World War, is heartbreaking. The book Her Darling Boy is a collection of letters to and from Polson’s family during the war. Many of the letters are translated from Icelandic, and they’ve been collected by Tom Goodman on behalf of his great-uncle Archie — whom he never knew.

The letters provide a unique perspective into the Icelandic community in Manitoba during the war and portray the tragic situation faced by countless families of wounded soldiers as they waited for news from the front.

As we mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Goodman wants Canadians to remember the devastating impact of the war on Canadian families.

“I had an image of [my grandmother], after her death, scolding her Creator at Heaven’s Gate, while a chastened God promised that one day He would use Archie’s suffering to inform a future generation of Canadians about the tragedy of war — and to challenge those who glorify war.”

Goodman’s struggle to come to terms with the First World War remains Canada’s struggle as well.

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