In Charles Todd's, A Test of Wills, the protagonist, Ian Rutledge left a brilliant career at Scotland Yard in 1914 to fight in the Great War. In 1919, Rutledge is back, burdened with a heavy secret. He is still suffering from "shell-shock", haunted by an internal voice that belittles him and exacerbates his war guilt. Inspector Ian Rutledge engrosses himself in police work, hoping to regain his sanity. He is sent to Warwickshire, England due to the murder of a popular military officer. The current conflicts revealed in this small city accurately reflect the post World War I society of England. The historical and dynamic aspects embedded in the novel highlight the wartime role of English women, experiences faced by men, who fought in the Great War and the return of "shell-shock" veterans in England.
Many British soldiers left to serve their country on the Western Front, while woman maintained the home front and witnessed the negative effects of the war. Prior to this time, women were considered inferior and subservient to men. Before the war, "most well-bred girls tried their hands at water colors or music - it was rather expected of them" (Pg. 185). The government looked to women to persuade men to join the army. Patriotic organizers told women to keep their distance from men in civilian clothes, and to disgrace civilians on the street by giving them a white feather, a symbol of cowardice and dishonour. Government and industry also needed women to replace men in many lines of work. Todd skillfully develops the character, Catherine Tarrant, who is a local painter in Warwickshire. In 1915, her father died and she returned to run her family's estate on her own since the "only men left to work the land were either very old and very young" (Pg. 130). Catherine had acquired basic skills from her father, who taught her how to shoot a riffle and harvest the land. She was often admired by the local schoolgirls who thought, "she was something of a heroine.