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4.5 out of 5 stars76
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 25 October 2011
This is Goddard's best book and I have read most. The plot is fiendishly clever, the atmosphere authentic and the characters real and convincing. Above all, it is so well written and un-put-downable. Yet what is its genre? Is it a thriller, a mystery or a romance? It is all and so much more. Wonderful book!
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on 8 February 2012
this is my favourite, desert island novel. Complex and enthralling ,I've read it many times and I'm still not quite sure........
HIs writing is superb and each year I await his next book with bated breath!
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on 14 May 2004
Well, I finally finished it, and may I just say how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were so many twists and turns I didn't think I would be able to keep up, but I did, and just when I thought I had the next one sussed out, bang!, another unexpected twist.
I would never have thought twice about reading this book before, (it was the book of the month in a reading group I am a member of) but now I think I may go and buy another Robert Goddard. It may be possible that this book has made a Robert Goddard addict out of me!
The story was so well constructed, beautifully written, and highly involving with the use of the many different 1st person narratives, the characters were engrossing, loathsome and pitiful. i felt as though I was truly a part of teh unfolding story. I finished it in just 4 sittings.
It was highly reminiscent of an Agatha Christie, and can imagine sitting enthralled watching a dramatisation of it.
Hope everyone enjoys it as much as me!
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on 22 June 2012
When it comes to the writing of Robert Goddard I am an unabashed fan. Each and every one of his books that I have read is better than the last. I just finished IN PALE BATELLIONS, one of his earlier offerings, and was once again impressed with his masterful storytelling and his ability to create characters and situations that ensnare you and compel you to keep reading. Since Goddard's books don't have to be read in any particular order, you can basically begin anywhere.

IN PALE BATELLIONS moves between several different time periods from WWI to the eighties and tells a tale that is more than an English manor house murder mystery....it is a convoluted tale of identity (false ones and people searching for one) with a host of featured players whose foibles ranging from melancholy, withdrawn and secretive to hedonistic, self-indulgent, and odious. Not a standard "whodunit" this saga unfolds like the petals of a flower and just when you think that you have the solution, the story takes another turn, a new question of identity and relationships resurface and you must rethink your conclusions.

Goddard is a masterful teller of cleverly executed, elegant and emblematic tales filled to the brim with duplicity and long buried secrets........of which IN PALE BATELLIONS reigns as one of his best. All I can say is " Try it, you'll like it!"
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on 12 May 2008
I have only recently discovered Robert Goddard having picked up a copy of Never Go Back on offer. Deciding to read his earlier work, I have found him to be an author of remarkably eloquent and intelligent vocabulary, written in manner that does not betray the use of a thesaurus. In Pale Battalions goes beyond the genre of mystery or thriller and can only be described as pure English Literature. If you're looking for a refreshing and stimulating story, the kind that you'll think about when many other reads are forgotten about, then choose this before you look at the latest 'Man Booker' winner.
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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2006
I am surprised that the last two reviewers did not enjoy "In Pale Battalions", especially as the previous 6 reviewers had given it 5 stars.

I have now read 5 Robbert Goddard novels and this one certainly lives up to expectations.

All her life Penelope has believed that her father was killed in action during World War Two, so it came as a shock to find that the date enscribed by his name on the war memorial in France, predated her birth by 11 months.

She is travelling with her mother, who then recounts her own life history, which she had previously been very sectetive about.

Others become involved in this narrative, which proves to have many twists and turns before the truth is out.

I love a book with surprises and this one has several.

4 stars purely because I love historical fiction, but thrillers are not my first choice.
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on 19 January 2015
I found this book a slow read and the way it went forward and back in time without a clear identification as to where we were in time annoying. Reading the book on a Kindle,as I did, made it difficult to check facts given earlier in the story. Not one of his best.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 December 2013
In 1988, British novelist Robert Goddard published a multi-generational novel called, "In Pale Battalions". Set in England and the battlefields of France and Picardy during the Great War, Goddard has written an excellent novel that exposes feelings and attitudes of those fighting at the time, and how their lives and sacrifices trickled down to affect future generations. Also the madness and the lies and deceptions resulting from certain mad acts. It's now almost 30 years after publication of the original book, and 2014 is the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of that war. It's a fine time to discover Goddard's novel.

We have been deluged so far with books about the Great War, both fiction and non-fiction. While the works of non-fiction tell the best story of the war with facts, many works of fiction tell the "feeling" of the war. The story in "Pale Battalions" is very complicated and is told in the first-person voices of three characters. All these characters interacted - to a degree - between 1904 and 1969, but the story they tell is all a bit compromised by they're being "unreliable narrators". But does having an "unreliable narrator" mean that we - the readers - shouldn't believe what they're saying? I don't think so in this case.

Basically, this story is about Leonora Gallaway and her search for the truth of her family. Supposedly conceived 11 months after the death of her father in battle, she was mistreated by her father's family after her mother died in childbirth and she was turned over to their care. Secrets that seemingly began in that secluded country house during the war, actually began a few years earlier. Identities were blurred, murders occurred - both on and off the battlefield - and the revelations which come out years after the war are shocking to the reader.

"In Pale Battalions" is expertly written by Robert Goddard. While some reviewers have written that the pace is slow, I think most readers interested in the period and the characters will find it quite good.
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on 14 January 2013
Second novels are not always easy for authors, especially if their debut novel is a huge success, as 'Past Caring' was for Robert Goddard.

There was a gap of two years before 'In Pale Battalions' arrived in 1988 but it was worth the wait.

After a third read of this great novel since I discovered his books in 1998, I still think of this as my personal favourite.

Simply, it is just a fantastic story. An evocative, interweeving narrative that twists and turns with great characterisation and plotting.

Often told from a female character's perspective it displays Goddard's early talent for writing multi dimensional characters who are believable but also ellusive,allowing the reader to question the truth in their behaviour and actions.

As with the majority of his work (saving a dip in form between 2006-9) his landscapes are brilliantly brought to life as he captures time and place so well.

This is without doubt one of his very best books and it is notable that those reviewers who have read all of his books would agree and yet those who have read his more recent and faster paced thrillers will find this too slow and 'literary'.

It was the poor TV adaptation of 'Into the Blue' that helped me discover this great writer. I did not realise that the film was a traversty of the book Goddard had written until I read it. If produced properly and accurately 'In Pale Battalions' could be a fantastic TV series and open up Goddard's stories to many more readers.

It is one of his best, if not his best novel, as all his early novels still take some beating.
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on 28 May 2007
Six months after her husband's sudden death, Leonora Galloway sets off for a holiday in Paris with her daughter Penelope. At last the time has come when secrets can be shared and explanations begin...

Their journey starts with an unscheduled stop at the imposing Thiepval Memorial to the dead of the Battle of the Somme near Amiens. Amongst those commemorated is Leonora's father. The date of his death is recorded as 30th April, 1916. But Leonora wasn't born until 14th March 1917.

Penelope at once supposes a simple wartime illegitimacy as the clue to her mother's unhappy childhood and the family's sundered connections with her aristocratic heritage, about which she has always known so little. But nothing could have prepared her, or the reader, for the extraordinary story that is about to unfold.

The story is very cleverly designed, every event fits into its place like in a giant gigsaw puzzle. Little by little the reader discovers what secrets lie behind Leonora's past. The book is extremely well read by Tony Britton for BBC audiobooks.
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