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Book Title: The Return of the Soldier|
The author of the book: Rebecca West
Edition: Virago Press (UK)
The size of the: 6.61 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: 2010
ISBN 13: 9781844087150
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2299 times
Reader ratings: 4.4
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I shudder to think of what soldiers have to witness whist taking to the battlefield, regardless of what war they were fighting in. Some return home bathed in glory, but for others mental anguish and post traumatic stress can be emotionally paralyzing. What though of shell shock?, unable to remember the horrors of war would surely be a blessing?, but then again not. For loved ones back at home have to pick up the fragmented pieces of someones lost memories, and welcome back a complete stranger.
Reading 'The return of the Soldier' was like diving into deep water, then watching the ripple effects as they drift away. Rebecca West was apparently the first woman to write of the Great War. And this taut short novel from 1918 tells of Chris, a young English soldier with memory loss, robbing him of the last 15 years. The narrative is told from the perspective not from the frontline but from the view point of three woman, Kitty the wife, cousin Jenny, and Margaret, Chris's first love, she is the one Chris remembers most, causing pain for Kitty that she is unknown to him. This in simple terms is a tale of loss, and those surviving the burdening wreckage back at home. It may have a tragic and sad premise, but it also contains some beautifully rendered passages of writing.
When Chris returns to the family’s estate, a home he shares with Kitty and his cousin, Jenny, they turn the home into a sort of castle for him, a place where he should feel at piece and be happy, but he can’t deal with his surroundings and believes he is still in love with his sweetheart Margaret from years before. Jenny, the book’s first-person narrator, recognizes his longing for the past and laments the loss of their close friendship. Kitty struggles with Chris's behaviour, and becomes cold and withdrawn, whist for Chris he insists that he simply must see Margaret (now married herself), his love from a bygone era.
There is hardly any mention of war once these four people start to tackle the problems they face, with much of the story devoted to Jenny’s observations of the British countryside. West gives the reader much to contemplate, and the story itself feels like ones distant dream. We also learn that Chris and Kitty once had a child, who sadly passed away, leading the story to be polished off in a tender and heartfelt manner.
Although I found the story itself interesting, it's short length didn't do the characters full justice, I wanted to spend more time with them, this is testament to West's poetic writing, which was so pleasing on the eye. But she doesn’t just lay it all out there on picnic blanket, you do have to read between the lines, work through observations, and ponder on gathered thoughts. West also tackles the idea of love, and how time can take it's toll on those involved directly, you do wonder if Chris and Kitty's relationship would survived, regardless of his shell shock.
Everything ends rather abruptly, I felt a little bit cheated, but that's only because I admired so much what went before.
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Read information about the authorCicely Isabel Fairfield, known by her pen name Rebecca West, or Dame Rebecca West, DBE was an English author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer. A prolific, protean author who wrote in many genres, West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of the twentieth century. She reviewed books for The Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Sunday Telegraph, and the New Republic, and she was a correspondent for The Bookman. Her major works include Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), on the history and culture of Yugoslavia; A Train of Powder (1955), her coverage of the Nuremberg trials, published originally in The New Yorker; The Meaning of Treason, later The New Meaning of Treason, a study of World War II and Communist traitors; The Return of the Soldier, a modernist World War I novel; and the "Aubrey trilogy" of autobiographical novels, The Fountain Overflows, This Real Night, and Cousin Rosamund. Time called her "indisputably the world's number one woman writer" in 1947. She was made CBE in 1949, and DBE in 1959, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to British letters.
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