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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving novel about friendship on the WWI battlefield.
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...
Published on 21 Mar 2001

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward account of two soldiers' relationship in the trenches of WWI
Susan Hill's novel set in World War One takes its name from a Wilfred Owen poem - Strange Meeting - but, as she says in an author's afterword, there's very little else to connect the novel and poem together.

Written in 1971, it tells the story of John Hilliard, a soldier who, in the first few pages, is wounded and returns to England. He spends a little time...
Published 15 months ago by C. Unsworth


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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving novel about friendship on the WWI battlefield., 21 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Strange Meeting (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
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This review is from: Strange Meeting (Paperback)
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
By 
R. Clifton "sciencegirl" (Tooting, London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strange Meeting (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
This review is from: Strange Meeting (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
This review is from: Strange Meeting (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
This review is from: Strange Meeting (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. Some of the sentences and paragraphs have stayed with me ever since I first read the book, but it is the story itself, which, in the end, is the most haunting thing of all; knowledge of the fact that, even though it is fiction, it has its base in reality, serves only to intensify, and the events that occur, the feelings that evolve, might easily have been experienced by some other young men so many years ago during those harrowing years in the trenches.

Absolutely beautiful.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars w-o-w, 22 April 2007
By 
A reader! (Jersey, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Strange Meeting (Paperback)
I read this in year 11 (please dont be put off in any way by my age) at school and was completely blown away by it. Seriously-you HAVE to read this. The relationship is so emotional that you will find it difficult to put the book down. I wouldn't say this about any random book. The ending is so sad i cried for an hour.

DONT let this put you off-you HAVE TO READ IT!

My favorite WW1 book (so far...!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb. Read it!, 15 Feb 2013
By 
This review is from: Strange Meeting (Paperback)
Having read Birdsong, I didn't think any novel could get close to the emotional intensity of Stephen Wraysford and his doomed love story. But I was wrong! Strange Meeting is shorter, different, but absorbing and hard hitting nevertheless. The characters are wonderfully drawn and you can feel the bond between these two young opposites from the start. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars probably the best of it's kind, 19 Oct 2010
This review is from: Strange Meeting (Paperback)
A book about relationships, family and friendship during the 1914-18 war. The book, though a novel, describes life and experiences, as I would imagine life might have been in the trenches. Having only just finished this book I'm still absorbing what I've read and am about to read it again more thoughtfully.Gripping
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A small action packed and thought provoking book, 27 Oct 2009
By 
browneyes, brandon "bb" (bury st edmunds, england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Strange Meeting (Paperback)
This book had me thinking more deeply about the 1st World War and the conditions that many of my family had died in. Not only the conditions but the friendships that they must have formed. This is a beautifully written book and probably suitable for young male teenagers to read who are studying the WWI at school.
I know my own grandson went to France with his school and came back quite shocked at what he had seen but interested in the history even more so. He is an avid intelligent reader, so perhaps would not suit all. Susan Hill scores once again.
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Strange Meeting
Strange Meeting by Susan Hill (Paperback - 25 Oct 1973)
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