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4.7 out of 5 stars33
4.7 out of 5 stars
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2003
Being Dutch, I took an interest in this strange habit (no room for foxhunting in Holland)which creates so big a fuss these days was all about. This novel depicts the Great Days - the Edwardian era - of this British event, with hunting parties all over the country. . Clearly, a hunt or a 'event' was in those days as much a jolly social event as was village cricket. Though even then, there were protesting farmers. But the fox-hunt is not what this book is about (I suspected that much).
The book is great reading about the England John Major famously once wanted to return to. Sunny leasure days, village cricket, tailors in London, slow trains, hores races, stable grooms & no worries in the world. People were never in a hurry and had much more time on their hands. No shopping malls, no traffic jams, no rush. Halfway through the book there's mention of a character who 'is something in the City' as if this is extremely odd. Furthermore, your classic retired Army Colonels, Country Mansions and Village Vicars are all over the pages. Fantastic!
The hunt is the only passion of the author - more precisely riding his horse through the fields, jumping fences & being out in the open with a troop of dogs is what it was all about. The Great British Passion for Horses & everything that comes with it is vividly described all through the book.
And then came to war - The Great British Army stumbling into their worst nightware in the same carefree Edwardian way. People dying, but the author makes it perfectably understandable he only cares about his favourite horse. Still, his tone remains lighth hearted about the whole thing until the very end of the book, when personal losses enrage the author.

Great book, with a nice melancholy touch, depicting in detail a way of life which is - sad to say - forever gone - no point in arguing about it. A great historical classic. Recommended!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2003
We are constantly told that change is inevitable. This book marks the point when the modern world began and poignantly commemorates the loss of time-honoured tradition and constancy. I do not look back to a "golden age" but would urge anyone that looks to the future to read this book and understand how easily the good things can be thrown away.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2004
This has to be one of the finest books that I have read in a very long time. It runs for me along two lines. The first is as an exceptionally refined piece of nostalgia that captures an era which was to be lost forever. The second is the gradual withdrawal of youth's self centred outlook on life as time progresses.
As a piece of nostalgia the book is in its element. Numerous stories abound of hunting, cricket, point to point races and other upper-middle class activities which are framed so beautifully by the wirters love and adept decsriptions of the surrounding countryside. This priveliged Edwardian life is one of the primary aspects of the novel and it is made all the more fun as the narrative gradually becomes more and more dated as time goes on - most notably their attitudes to class and of course fox hunting (of which there is actually at least one reference to an Edwardian anti fox hunting movement!)
The nostalgic nature of the book is an absolute pre requisite for the books main thrusting theme - that of lost time. The lives and traditions of the priveliged few are unalterably changed by WW1, the beginnings of which take up the last two chapters of the book. These last sections make for an astounding contrast to the rest of the book and enables the reader to a) fully appreciate the comparative horrors of conditions in the trenches, and b) sit by helplessly as this young man's world is torn apart.
This is a must read for anyone who loves Sassoons poetry, has a deep interest in the horrors of war, or enjoys looing back nostalgically on times that we thought were better. Times that were either better because our memories have failed us, or better because it is all before age has exposed our ego-centric universe to the "deepening sadnesses of life".
An excellent read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2009
This is a must read for everyone interested in English social history in the early 20th century and the experiences and anxieties of a very brave man and soldier during the First World War. One to read again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 September 2014
Although I’ll admit to having a slight preference for Sassoon’s follow-up (and second part of his George Sherston trilogy) Memoirs Of An Infantry Officer – due to its more consistent emotional power and its deeper discussion of Sherston’s (i.e. Sassoon’s) war psychology – this first part (first published in 1928) benefits from being able to illustrate the stark contrast Sassoon’s narrator experienced between his idyllic rural existence playing cricket and hunting (which accounts for three-quarters of ‘Fox-hunting Man) with that of his later introduction to life at the Western Front. Indeed, were one unaware of Sassoon’s later notorious anti-war views, it would almost be possible to read ‘Fox-hunting Man’ with Sherston being appearing largely neutral on the issue (although, as the novel is written as an historical memoir, Sassoon’s narrator does signpost how his views were to later develop).

Another notable point about this first part of Sassoon’s 'fictionalised autobiography’ is that, despite its title, it does not dwell on the 'bloody detail’ of fox-hunting (for anyone sensitive on this issue), but rather the narrator’s passion is obviously driven by his love of horses (and their riding) – a theme which repeatedly comes across, particularly during the thrilling account of Sherston racing for the Colonel’s Cup. Cricket is the 'young gentleman’s’ other principal life passion and Sassoon’s description of the unique (and, admittedly, nerdy!) idiosyncrasies of this most English of fascinations provides an evocative microcosm of the young Sherston’s privileged upbringing, which only serves to accentuate the differences with the emotional devastation perpetrated on Sherston the soldier, as many of his close acquaintances latterly become mere war casualty statistics. Throughout, Sassoon’s prose is beautifully (and simply) written, whether his protagonist be sipping tea on a manicured lawn or trudging through the muddy trenches.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 1998
Siegfried Sassoon is probably best known as a poet of the First World War and the patient of Dr W H R Rivers from Pat Barker's "Regeneration" trilogy, or as one of the main characters in Gillies Mackinnon's film of "Regeneration".
With the First World War very much in the minds of present day readers, this account of the lost pre-War life in England for a well-to-do and leisured young man beautifully evokes a lifestyle and countryside we ourselves can hardly imagine. The Kent and Sussex countryside are lovingly depicted by Sassoon in "Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man" and his account of the "Flower Show Match" is beloved of cricketing enthusiasts. The book covers the childhood of the poet in a fictionalised form, through the alter ego of George Sherston. Although Sassoon orphans himself in this account of his childhood, we can still see the love of the English countryside that comes out in Sassoon's early poetry, his pleasure in fox-hunting and playing cricket, and the beginnings of the man who was to become the bravely foolhardy officer of the First World War.
This book is the first of a trilogy covering the life of the protagonist George Sherston, the other two titles being "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer" and "Sherston's Progress".
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on 27 November 2014
Love horses? Check. Love nature and the English countryside? Check. Love coming-of-age boy-to-man stories? Check. Love exquisitely expressed character and social framework descriptions? Check. Love war stories? Check. These are the five reasons why this is one of my all-time favourite books.
This is the semi-autobiographical account of a sensitive and lonely personality whose adolescence persists into his mid-twenties, yet the seemingly indolent and snobbish lifestyle of hunting transforms him from Mummy’s boy to fearless aggressor. Sassoon will one day win the Military Cross for rescuing wounded men in France in 1916.
This book is about the original extreme sport and the age-old bond between horse and rider in the very last days of man’s dependency upon his four-hoofed friends. Each horse Sassoon owns develops his riding- and his character- in a new way. But this wonderful account of rural pursuits is far more than a horsey story. It is an unsentimental snapshot of English country life at the dawn of the twentieth century: a frozen glimpse of a society soon to be obliterated with the passing of its ‘doomed youth’ and replaced by motor cars and mass production. It makes you want to be able to go back in time to the village green flower show and warn them all not to let it happen…
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2000
This is a remarkable book that can be read on several different levels. It does indeed give an exhilirating account of hunting and even people with anti-hunt sentiments (like myself) can feel the excitement of the sport described in such detail. What makes the book almost unbearably poignant however is the knowledge that this comfortable world of Edwardian elegance is about to be destroyed in the Flanders mud. It is the knowledge that this amiable, idle young man will become the tortured war poet that gives one sympathy for the author who otherwise seems a somewhat feckless member of the middle classes. The quality of writing is excellent but it is the Chechovian cloud of doom hanging over this gilded, bucolic world that kept me enthralled.
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on 18 May 2014
This is a gorgeous book. It's an incredible portrait of a very particular time in England that's been lost to the ages, of young men who had incredible freedom, of a country idyll that I don't think has been known for generations. Even if you've never so much as seen a hunt, this is worth reading (although you might need a glossary of hunting and horsey terms) as an elegy to an England gone. The last few chapters, clearly written from Sassoon's own experiences in the trenches of Northern France are utterly heartbreaking and in such stark contrast to the rollicking fun over rolling hills that it's hard to believe the experiences came from the same heart and the same pen. Highly recommended.
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on 30 March 2013
Siegfried Sassoon is in my view a great writer and poet whose works should be required reading for students of history and English but also for anyone who seeks an insight into the horrors of war.This first book of the trilogy and all three should be read leads us through the early life of George Sherston until we see his entry into the infantry . A well written book and in my view a classic of English literature.
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