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52 Reviews
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative writing
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...
Published on 12 May 2008 by Phdavies

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but lacking involvement
I love Goddard's books, but this one had me at a loss.

As an earlier reviewer said, the story is crafted like a Russian doll, a narrative within a narrative within a narrative. I found this confusing as this made the narrative shunt back and forth, presenting alternative versions of events and leaving the reader interested but uninvolved.

Unlike...
Published on 12 Nov 2009 by Book Maven


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative writing, 12 May 2008
By 
Phdavies "RevPhil" (Pembrokeshire UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but lacking involvement, 12 Nov 2009
By 
Book Maven (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
I love Goddard's books, but this one had me at a loss.

As an earlier reviewer said, the story is crafted like a Russian doll, a narrative within a narrative within a narrative. I found this confusing as this made the narrative shunt back and forth, presenting alternative versions of events and leaving the reader interested but uninvolved.

Unlike Goddard's later novels this one does not present one with believable characters. It is as if one reads a sheaf of gossip columns, accounts of people one does not know nor care about, who are described as being involved in all sorts of murder and mayhem.

Goddard is trying to explore morally ambivalent choices and the personal and historic circumstances that can force people to make them. This is a philosophically interesting issue but as a plot it fails because both choices and characters are perceived as idiosyncratic and largely irrelevant. Do we really care about the tedious sexual obsessions of overgrown public schoolboys that elicit neither sympathy nor interest?

However the book has its enjoyable bits. Descriptions of the country house are evocative and fresh, as are the descriptions of the social manners and divisions of WW1-era England. One gets a strong and nostalgic picture of a lost world at the exact time of its disintegration, one that was remarkable despite being stratified and eventually doomed.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twistier than a corkscrew, 14 May 2004
By 
Helly77 (Burnley, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction meets thriller., 20 Jun 2006
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Robert Goddard, 28 May 2007
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Veils, 6 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
If what you love about Robert Goddard is his many-layered story-telling, you will go for this in a big way. The focus constantly shifts depending on who is speaking at the time. This technique lends mystery and distance to the narrative.
Full of surprises right up to the last few pages, and I had to read the pages over several times, it was such a shock.
He is a brilliant storyteller, hope there's a new book on the way!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OTHERS PALE IN COMPARISON, 22 Jun 2012
By 
Red Rock Bookworm (St. George Utah USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Pale Battlions, 25 Oct 2011
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This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Kindle Edition)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful - absolutely un-put-downable!, 18 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
Yet another thoroughly readable book from Robert Goddard - I usually enjoy his books and this one was no exception! In fact I read this one in one sitting!. Great story with enough twists to keep you guessing to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "feeling" of the Great War., 20 Dec 2013
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In Pale Battalions (Paperback)
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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In Pale Battalions
In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard
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