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The Officers Ward (Thorndike Press Large Print Buckinghams) [Large Print] [Paperback]

Marc Dugain
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 2002 Thorndike Press Large Print Buckinghams
'The First World War? I wasn't there. The muddy trench, the bone-piercing dampness, the black winter rats, the smell of cigarettes and shit, the rain constantly pouring out of God's steely sky - that wasn't the war I knew.' In the officers' ward of a hospital in Paris, three young men and a woman meet in the early days of the First World War. Each of them has suffered horrific injuries to the face: Adrien, the narrator, Penanster, a Breton aristocrat, Weil, a Jewish aviator, and Marguerite, a nurse, one of the few women in the hospital. The friendship that the four form sustains them through the months and years that follow. When the war ends they are released from hospital, to adapt as they can to life outside. Based on the true war experiences of the author's grandfather, this is a moving, humorous and humane novel about war and survival.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786244828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786244829
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 676,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

A vivid prize-winning first novel from a new French writer: a French take on Birdsong or Pat Barker's trilogy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Marc Dugain is 41 and is the chairman of Proteus Airlines, a subsidiary of Air France. This is his first novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I KNEW nothing of the Great War. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and impossible to put down. 24 Mar 2001
This is a fantastic novel, the best I have read in years, and I found it impossible to put down. The author tells the story of a young French army officer injured in the first days of the First World War and his subsequent stay in a ward set aside for officers with facial injuries. The book is a short one, 130 pages, but the author tells more of the real horror and effects of war than many a longer novel. All of the characters are perfectly portrayed. But, the story is not a sad one. The "hero" and his fellow officers strive to overcome their injuries and the story of the bond that grows between them is moving and uplifting. There is not a wasted word is this unforgettable novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 7 Aug 2005
This short story is simply yet beautifully told. I have not read the original French version but Howard Curtis' translation is excellent. The novel makes you reflect on the uselessness and futility of war but it never becomes morbid or depressing to an extent you don't want to continue. The message here is that, despite sufferering terrible injuries, qualities such as humour, friendship and love can prevail. One of the best books I have read in a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece 26 Jan 2009
A book about friendship and hope. Adrien Fournier is seriously wounded in the first days of the Great War. It isn't the traditional tidy wound of fiction; it rips a large part of his face away and Fournier's war takes place a long way from the trenches, as doctors mend his broken face. It isn't all about pain and operations though, he has time to form deep friendships with two other officers - Penanster a Breton cavalry officer and Weil, a badly burned pilot who demands "I want a nose. Not a little nose, a proper Jewish nose." Later they add Marguerite, a badly wounded nurse to the circle.

Life in hospital is full of incident. They play cards, support the other wounded, avoid their families and try, with mixed success, to re-enter the world. In 1919 they leave hospital and the final fifth of the book deals with their normalisation. They find a life and come to terms with their disabilities and losses. The world, we see, finds it harder to come to terms with them.

In 1939 their lives change once more, particularly for Weil and his family, but when the war ends they find a new generation that needs their help.

Dugain has a deceptively simple style, saying much with few words and leaving a lingering impression. With a good eye for detail and the discipline to avoid cliché and mawkishness, he has produced a book of power, authority and beauty.

If you only want to read one modern novel about the Great War read this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent World War I novel! 13 July 2012
By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE
Perhaps the tragedies, the horrors, and the heroics of World War I have been
chronicled over and over, but perhaps, still, not often enough. In Marc Dugain's first novel "The Officers' Ward," the French-born author has furnished yet another story (and lesson) from the "War to end all Wars."

To say it was "the worst of times" would be an understatement and young
Lieutenant Adrien Fournier finds himself an early casualty of the German onslaught. He's devastatingly wounded--much of his face is blown away--and he's transported to Paris to await recovery and rehabilation for the rest of the war, some five years or so. A bright young man (an engineer by education), and handsome, he must now face a future grotesquely disfigured and to a whole where self pity, even repulsion, await him. He forms a long-standing bond with three others who've suffered similar injuries. It is a time for them all to come to grips with their own mortality.

But Fournier is no lightweight and sets about facing his own destiny. His time in
hospital--in a special ward for soldiers with such facial injuries--serves as the basis of his own positive perception of the world to come. It's not an easy ride for him.

The general idea for this story comes from Dugain's own grandfather, himself a
veteran of The Great War. "The Officers' Ward" was honored with France's Prix des
Libraires, and was on the short-list for the Grand Prix of the Académie Française.
Dugain's power of description and episode is a depressingly tragic view of such a
senseless war, yet these tragic elements are somehow overshadowed by the hope and the will of the human spirit to rise above the personal pitfalls and to function positively within the confines of a civilized society. But most importantly it is within the confines of his own self-image that Lieutenant Fournier prevails. Dugain deserves his accolades.
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