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Beautifully Written, Deftly Composed,
This review is from: The Return of the Soldier (Modern Library Classics) (Kindle Edition)
First published when she was twenty-six-years-old, Rebecca West's brief, but beautiful novel 'The Return of the Soldier' tells the story of Captain Chris Bawdry who, during the First World War, is returned home from the Front with shell shock and suffering from partial amnesia. Waiting for his return are three very different women: Kitty, his beautiful, indulged and rather shallow wife; Jenny, his devoted and favourite cousin; and Margaret, an inn-keeper's daughter, whom he was deeply in love with fifteen years earlier, and from whom he parted after a foolish misunderstanding ended their relationship. However, this homecoming will be no ordinary event for Chris, or for the three women who await his return, for Chris's mind is locked in a period of time fifteen years earlier, and he is under the illusion that he is returning to the love of his life, Margaret. But what will his wife Kitty and, indeed, Jenny and Margaret do when he returns?
Although Rebecca West was very young when she wrote 'The Return of the Soldier', she was already an accomplished journalist and committed women's rights campaigner, and this is a beautifully written, taut and deftly composed story, which although deceptively simple on the surface, examines the ripple effects of war on individuals and on society. It's also about truth, deception, class differences, morality, goodness, different kinds of love and about confronting reality. Quite a lot for such a short novel and that is one of the reasons why this is such a particularly good piece of fiction.