This is a wonderful book and all the more remarkable for being the author's first work of non-fiction. It should be read by everyone who is interested in Edward Thomas, poetry and everyone else. Matthew Hollis has written the most plausible account yet of the last four years of ET's troubled existence. All previous attempts have been written by people who were too in love with him, too close to his family or too polite to provide a sufficiently objective account. As he valued honesty (read "I may come near loving you" for proof) above everything, ET would surely approve.
The big mystery about ET is why after so many years of reviewing and writing prose he turned to poetry. The book focuses on Robert Frost's role but goes much further than any previous writer in showing why Frost's influence was the trigger rather than the underlying cause. The truth is surely that ET had to write poetry. It was either that or "the friend" in his pocket. By 1914 his regular sources of income were drying up, the war seemed likely to determine the fates of all, the "melancholy" he had wrestled with all of his adult life had not departed, so why not have a go? He told Eleanor Farjeon "I couldn't write a poem to save my life." - how wrong can you be?
The other mystery is why he joined up. He wasn't jingoistic (see "This is no case of petty right or wrong") and he was old enough not to feel under any great pressure to go. So why did he do it? Read the book! If you're still not convinced read the poems, particularly; Aspens, Sowing, Beauty, Lob, The Owl, Light's Out, For These and Old Man and then, I promise you will want to!