Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Soldier's Return by Melvyn Bragg

This book quickly establishes a strong sense of place, which is maintained throughout. The descriptions of Wigton and its streets and landmarks are maplike in their detail. The evocations of the post-war era and the attitudes of those who lived through the war towards the men returning are strong, although the characterisation of Ellen was less developed than she deserves. This woman has taken on the role of head of family while her husband has been away, she has raised their son and earned a living, and yet as the novel progresses she becomes increasingly just a personification of the lack of understanding faced by Sam.

Overall, however, I enjoyed this book. I finished it with the feeling that I had learned something about the world that my parents and grandparents had lived through and that is not mentioned in the usual "returning hero" genre of films and books.

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