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Strange Meeting [Paperback]

Susan Hill
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

25 Oct 1973

Susan Hill's classic novel Strange Meeting tells of the power of love amidst atrocities.

'He was afraid to go to sleep. For three weeks, he had been afraid of going to sleep . . .'

Young officer John Hilliard returns to his battalion in France following a period of sick leave in England. Despite having trouble adjusting to all the new faces, the stiff and reserved Hilliard forms a friendship with David Barton, an open and cheerful new recruit who has still to be bloodied in battle. As the pair approach the front line, to the proximity of death and destruction, their strange friendship deepens. But each knows that soon they will be separated . . .

'A remarkable feat of imaginative and descriptive writing' The Times

'The feeling of men under appalling stress at a particular moment in history is communicated with almost uncanny power' Sunday Times

'Truly Astonishing' Daily Telegraph

Susan Hill's novels include I'm the King of the Castle and Mrs de Winter, a sequel to Du Maurier's Rebecca. She is also well known for her children's books (including Can It Be True?, which won the Smarties Prize). She has written non-fiction and autobiography and is a regular broadcaster and reviewer. She is married to the Shakespeare scholar Stanely Wells, and they live in a Gloucestershire village from which she runs a small publishing company called Long Barn Books. You can see her website at www.susan-hill.com.


Frequently Bought Together

Strange Meeting + Journey's End (Penguin Modern Classics) + Regeneration (Regeneration Trilogy)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (25 Oct 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140036954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140036954
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Hill is a prize-winning novelist, having been awarded the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewelyn Rhys awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She wrote Mrs de Winter, the bestselling sequel to Rebecca, and the ghost story The Woman in Black, which was adapted for the stage and became a great success in the West End. Her books include a collection of exquisite short stories, The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read, and the highly successful crime novel series about the detective Simon Serrailler. Susan Hill lives in Gloucestershire, where she runs her own small publishing firm, Long Barn Books.

Product Description

About the Author

Susan Hill's novels include I'm the King of the Castle and Mrs de Winter, a sequel to Du Maurier's Rebecca. She is also well known for her children's books (including Can It Be True?, which won the Smarties Prize). She has written non-fiction and autobiography and is a regular broadcaster and reviewer. She is married to the Shakespeare scholar Stanely Wells, and they live in a Gloucestershire village from which she runs a small publishing company called Long Barn Books. You can see her website at www.susan-hill.com.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
He was afraid to go to sleep. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The theme of this novel is friendship, a friendship between two English soldiers, set against a background of the atrocities of the battlefield during the First World War.
John Hilliard, a young officer, returns to his battalion in France, after a period of sick leave in England. In the mean time a new officer has arrived. It's David Barton, 21 years old and slightly younger that Hilliard.
Hilliard, who is rather stiff and reserved and has been lonely all his life, feels that he is changing under the influence of the open, easy-going and cheerful Barton, who can express his feelings so easily.
The great merit of this book is that Susan Hill shows us what it means to people to be intimate friends, to share feelings and to be happy in each other's company. Under normal circumstances this friendship might never have developed to such an extent. In this war it could.
The nightmare world of the front line trenches is depicted so vividly, that we realize that this war was not only terrible, but also senseless; it only led to enormous loss of lives.
A wonderful story - sad and moving.
For further reading I recommend "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1929) by E.M. Remarque. It's a beautifully written and very moving story of German trench soldiers in WWI.It's the best anti-war novel I've ever read and has become world-famous.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down 4 Nov 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am 17 and I have just started studying A level English Literature so I've been stocking up on books about World War 1, as that is the topic in question. Because a lot of World War 1 literature is a little out dated and sometimes hard to understand and the books I had read already had bored me to tears, I was expecting "STRANGE MEETING" to be just as dull. But from the first line I was gripped. You immediately feel a close connection with the main character, John Hilliard and although he has quite a complex personality, I found that I began to understand his recations perfectly because Pat Barker writes in such a way that you get emotionally attached and almost feel as if you are the main character. The story gets better as it goes along, as more characters are introduced and you see how Hilliard's personality begins to soften as he befriends David Barton - a character that I immediately fell in love with. I could go on and on singing this book's praises, but what proves that it's an excellent piece of literature and worth reading is that when a character suffers a loss you grieve with them and when you read the last line of the book, you can't help but sigh as the tears prick your eyes. It is truly that beautiful :)
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful wonderful book 23 May 2006
Format:Paperback
Strange Meeting is the story of two men meeting whilst serving together in WW1. It is a gently-paced, completely absorbing tale, with characters that draw you in as it progresses. It is one of the most beautiful and haunting books I have ever read - I first came across it at school, and have never forgotten it. Together with the Ghost Road trilogy by Pat Barker, this book is a remarkable fictional representation (both written by women) of the horrors of the trenches, but also the simple joys of friendship that can be discovered at the same time.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars love in the trenches 5 July 2006
Format:Paperback
A beautiful and intense novel. John Hilliard is distant and repressed, swallowing words and following orders. Always the glacial outsider he meets David Barton who's open, friendly and warm, full of stories and family and smiles. Their relationship is so natural, not contrived, just a gradual understanding, a slow clarification. Of course there's the senseless horrors (shockingly pointless), the rats and corpses and mud and tradegy. But this is essentially a love story. An eloquent expression of the gay experience, but much more than that too. Spare, poetic and wonderfully lucid, the tears will come. Utterly transcendent.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. 24 Nov 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Please, please do not dismiss this book as boring. Once I had engaged with the characters (which happened practically before I'd picked up the book) then I couldn't bear to miss a single word because each one gave insight into them. It was never boring. Susan Hill is an outstanding writer and captured this friendship (the 'strange meeting') and the characters of John and David perfectly (is this echoing the inseparable David and Jonathon from the Bible?)
If you think you would like to read this but can't really get into it the first time round, leave it. Wait till you want to. (I had been 'meaning to read it' for a couple of years but never really really wanted to.) I didn't pick it up again until the other day when for some reason I just wanted to read it, and then I was so glad I had: it's one of the best books I've ever read (much, much better than the Pat Barker trilogy, although they are good in themselves).
I don't normally write 'rave' reviews but this book is special. Read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic. 9 Feb 2010
By Menna
Format:Paperback
Such an absolutely beautiful story, and - as Susan Hill herself notes - not only about war, but, perhaps more importantly, about love.

There are so many wonderful things to say about Strange Meeting. While it is a relatively short story, no other novel has left such an impact on me, on several levels, as Strange Meeting has.

Taking place during the First World War, it deals with subjects such as the attitudes of the home front, estrangement, the carnage of war and the psychological impact that war has on a person taking part in it. Of great success is its rather subdued description of the war itself, often leaving it up to the reader to imagine the scenes of horror that its characters witness through observing the main characters' reactions to it all.

The consequences that war has on the mind is explored through Lieutenant Hilliard and Second Lieutenant Barton, as they gradually come to know each other and themselves better. At times, the war functions as a backdrop, as the growing intimacy between the two central characters is explored and evolved in a realistic and believable way, their rather ambiguous relationship adding emotion and a touch of innocence to a horror-filled world that seems otherwise devoid of love.

All in all, the novel proceeds at a fairly slow pace, which functions well as it allows the central relationship to build up gradually, while a build up of tension, due to the tedious work in the trenches and the knowledge of an inevitable attack, also occurs.

The language itself is as beautiful as the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good
Published 19 days ago by Mr. R. Bellerby
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
I wasn't expecting this story from Hill. I have read King of the Castle and The Woman in Black, and both were such dark stories, that I wasn't really sure I was meant to read her... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Vanillafab
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Susan Hill excels as always. Beautifully written, lyrical almost, this novel draws you in and you share in the emotion of a different love against a backdrop of war.
Published 26 days ago by Ms. Joiy Heyes
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender, brutal
STRANGE MEETING, by Susan Hill.

I really enjoyed this. At first with lingering doubts. After all, the story is set on the battle fields of France, WW1. Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Norman
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read
A friend highly recommended this book to me as another example of Susan Hill's excellent writing. It was quite atmospheric and the relationships between the characters were quite... Read more
Published 1 month ago by M. Hollands
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Susan Hill novel
I put Susan Hill in the same category of author as Muriel Spark; both are clever storytellers with the ability to grasp the reader from the first to the last page. Read more
Published 1 month ago by S. E. Walsh
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Meeting
I really rate Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy - the best books I've read about WW1 I don't think this is as good but it does go along way in making the reader feel what it must... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Morant
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest short novels about World One you will read
Susan Hill was in her late twenties when she wrote this remarkable novel. In under, two hundred pages, she conveys a huge range of emotions connected with men fighting and dying... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jl Adcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship
Beautifully described, gave a very real impression of war and Susan's Hill's characters were thought provoking. 2 quite different styles of family life were portrayed. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gibbs
4.0 out of 5 stars microcosm of war
My interest was maintained throuighout. Good to start with an officer's feelings about home leave. How well she has captured carnage, horror and pointlessness! Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. J. Young
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