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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and impossible to put down.
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...
Published on 24 Mar. 2001 by jfrfbennett@supanet.com

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed
I thought ths to be a good debut novel, but not worth the five stars others have awarded it.
It's somewhat moving, surprisingly positive, sensitively written and memoreable. However
the author doesn't make the most of the opportunity he created for himself.
The straightforward, matter-of-fact writing style is greatly preferable to the wordy self-indulgence...
Published 7 months ago by "Computer, Give Me Manual ...


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and impossible to put down., 24 Mar. 2001
By 
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Hardcover)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 26 Jan. 2009
By 
S. Wilson (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 7 Aug. 2005
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Hardcover)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, 26 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
I thought ths to be a good debut novel, but not worth the five stars others have awarded it.
It's somewhat moving, surprisingly positive, sensitively written and memoreable. However
the author doesn't make the most of the opportunity he created for himself.
The straightforward, matter-of-fact writing style is greatly preferable to the wordy self-indulgence employed by some writers, but the downside to this is that too many important moments are glossed over when the reader needs more immediacy. Just one example of this haste is when one of the terribly wounded main characters, against all odds, finds a woman who is able to love him as he is and marries her. This hugely important and significant event is hurried through with scarcely more than a glance.
Similarly, near the end of the story, when a Jewish family spend two years hiding in a cellar from the Nazis. The entire episode is rushed past us in less than a page.
Other reviewers seem to view this condensed style as a virtue, praising the author for being able to say "...so much with so few words..." Hmm.. Not quite so sure about that myself. At this point I'd like to re-affirm that I did like this novel, but I can't help feeling that too much was neglected.
Another prime example of this is the way in which Marguerite, the only woman among the four damaged friends, is sidelined. As the author himself suggests, whilst the men might be seen as all the more heroic precisely because of their terrible injuries, Marguerite, as a woman, will always be viewed with pity at best or (just as likely) outright revulsion I can't say too much for fear of spoilers, but there are several other reasons why she is by far the most tragic of the main players, which also makes her the most interesting, yet she gets the least coverage of all of them. Disappointing.
Also greatly accelerated - and neglected - is the bonding process between the characters. One minute they're strangers, next thing they've developed this intense friendship based on little more than shared suffering. Certainly this isn't unbelievable, but the reader needs a good deal more detail and interaction betwen them to substantiate the premise, and considerably more follow-up to be convincing.
'The Officers' Ward ' is a decent stab at a first novel and worth reading, but it's not the masterpiece others claim it to be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent World War I novel!, 13 July 2012
By 
Billy J. Hobbs "Bill Hobbs" (Tyler, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars The Officer's Ward, 7 April 2015
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This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
Excellent novel, a graphic account of what happened to soldiers with massive facial damage during WW1. I think it's more of a novella which is one of the reasons I haven't awarded five stars. It gives an insight to what it must have been like to be a patient in the ward with no mirrors but because it's so short I felt that some issues lacked depth or were left unexplored. There was one woman patient and I would have liked the writer to have written this up in more detail - we never see the world from her point of view. I couldn't help wondering what it would have been like on a women's ward and in some ways the author misses an opportunity to take a chance and consider how and why the terrible emotional trauma of male and female casualties must have differed. The male patients he describes get married but the woman, for apparently 'obvious' reasons remains single; I would have liked more depth on this subject but it tends to be glossed over. I suppose I have to keep in mind that it is the officer's 'ward' as opposed to the officers' lives afterwards so I would urge anyone interested in WW1 (or the human condition) to read this book because without doubt it is a little gem.
gem.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short but Effective, 18 July 2011
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
THE OFFICER'S WARD is a novel about French Lieutenant Adrien F. who is wounded in the opening days of the Great War and who finds himself in a ward for the terribly disfigured. As the war passes he bonds with his fellow wounded, including a woman.

This is not a long or complex book, almost a novella, but written with a restrained knowledge of history, clean prose and a sense of the brutalities of war. Dugain is intelligent enough to know to hold back and this restraint, by him and his characters, gives the book an added power. A short, bitter-sweet book on the fallout of war and the frustrated ambitions caused by injury.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Officer's Ward, 13 April 2010
By 
Mrs. Michelle Morgan (Somerset, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
Exellent book on this particular subject matter. The delivery service was perfect and the condition of the book was exellent
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5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem, 28 Mar. 2010
By 
Antony Davey (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Officer's Ward (Paperback)
A simple story about a tragic subject told in so much minute detail in a sometimes humerous manner. How does he manage it?
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