By The Green Of The Spring Paperback – 1 Jan 1988
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Published at the beginning of the 1980's - and difficult to find in bookstores nowadays - this three volume work of art - (1)Now God be Thanked: (2) Heart of War : (3) By the Green of the Spring - is nothing less than a 20th century equivalent of Tolstoy's 'War & Peace', and Vasilly Grossman's 'Life & Destiny' as the epitome of great writing, and it deserves to be placed on the same Olympian heights.
Amongst the myriads of characters we are presented to, there stands out (in my opinion)one of the great characters in modern fiction - Nicolai Fagioletti - a lowly Venitian waiter in London who is conscripted into the British army as cannon fodder and becomes a war hero at the Somme and subsequent battles. The whole tapestry is extremely well fleshed out, and we are taken from a pre-war Land of Eden (for the upper classes, at least), through the fear and carnage of the entire war (on land, at sea and in the air) - and to the post-war wrench towards a new, if not better, world.
Master's writing style, while being very Edwardian, is always engaging. This was the war that he was brought up on, and whose battles he was trained with when he went through military academy to prepare him for HIS big war, the Burmah Campaign of WW2. So we get a gripping 'insider's' view of fighting command of someone who had, himself, been in the thick of it. Yet he doesn't forget to weave in the civilian backdrop along with all the major and bit-part actors in this 'War to end all Wars'(sic).
For any publishers out there, please give us a new print copy because my edition is becoming increasingly ragged at the edges, with broken spines that can't be put in splints.
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