Brutal descriptions of carnage on the battlefield open this doomed love affair. Set during the 1863 Polish uprising, it opened my eyes to the daily deprivations and heartache war brings to ordinary people.
She was crying. Bitter tears streamed from her eyes as she felt the constant hardship in which she lived. She imagined that the insurgent hidden in the hay had suffocated or had bled to death. She thought of her father, wasting away in army bivouacs; about her cousins who had perished so terribly and at such an early age; of all those who had gone from this house. She reminded herself of the unease and the nighttime terror that lay in wait after the present day and would go on for untold numbers of endless nights .... She contemplated the brutal power that nothing could break, whose cruelty nothing could stem.