10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Strange Meeting (Paperback)
Such an absolutely beautiful story, and - as Susan Hill herself notes - not only about war, but, perhaps more importantly, about love.
There are so many wonderful things to say about Strange Meeting. While it is a relatively short story, no other novel has left such an impact on me, on several levels, as Strange Meeting has.
Taking place during the First World War, it deals with subjects such as the attitudes of the home front, estrangement, the carnage of war and the psychological impact that war has on a person taking part in it. Of great success is its rather subdued description of the war itself, often leaving it up to the reader to imagine the scenes of horror that its characters witness through observing the main characters' reactions to it all.
The consequences that war has on the mind is explored through Lieutenant Hilliard and Second Lieutenant Barton, as they gradually come to know each other and themselves better. At times, the war functions as a backdrop, as the growing intimacy between the two central characters is explored and evolved in a realistic and believable way, their rather ambiguous relationship adding emotion and a touch of innocence to a horror-filled world that seems otherwise devoid of love.
All in all, the novel proceeds at a fairly slow pace, which functions well as it allows the central relationship to build up gradually, while a build up of tension, due to the tedious work in the trenches and the knowledge of an inevitable attack, also occurs.
The language itself is as beautiful as the story. Some of the sentences and paragraphs have stayed with me ever since I first read the book, but it is the story itself, which, in the end, is the most haunting thing of all; knowledge of the fact that, even though it is fiction, it has its base in reality, serves only to intensify, and the events that occur, the feelings that evolve, might easily have been experienced by some other young men so many years ago during those harrowing years in the trenches.