- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1153 KB
- Print Length: 222 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Tom Benson; 171216 edition (8 Jan. 2016)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01ADZ4WT6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #404,794 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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A Life of Choice: Part One Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Written in the first person, the story has a very personal feel to it, enabling the reader to get to know Jim as a real flesh and blood person rather simply as a well-constructed character. The dialogue is entirely natural and the chronological way in which it’s portrayed and divided into twelve easily digestible chapters makes the story fluid and easy to read. There are many good things about being in the army as the author clearly shows but he doesn’t shy away from the negatives and hardships along the way. Another thing that impressed me was the author’s honesty in the events he portrays; he doesn’t exaggerate or sensationalise in pursuit of a more exciting or gripping story or try to give the impression that Jim is on course to be another Andy McCabe or other such well known military figure.
Although this is a fictional portrayal of Jim Falkner’s early military training and experiences, the author has drawn heavily on both his own life and those of his immediate comrades of the time, making ‘A Life of Choice’ as authentic as any entirely factual biography. I was pleased to discover when reading this that it wasn’t just another ‘pull up a sandbag’ type account relying on the legendary squaddie humour and colourful language for it entertainment but actually a thoughtful and well-written account of those times; yes those elements are present but they are not exaggerated or over-emphasised, though when they are alluded to it’s done to perfection…
“… The creases in his green denim trousers were sharper than the razor I’d used only the day before for the first time…”
“… Where I came from a steam iron was used to settle domestic disagreements...”
Anyone who has served as a regular in the army, or even one of the other services will from the beginning see familiar elements of themselves and their own experiences and might well read this like a trip down memory lane, bringing back happy and sometimes not so happy times. For others, particularly those who may have had or have friends or family who served, this book provides an honest and, true to military life, humorous insight into army training and life and just a few of the many colourful characters. Beyond that though this is also a compelling coming of age story, of the journey from boy to man, accelerated by intense military training along with all the usual landmark experiences of a young man growing up fast – being away from home for the first time, the pain of first love and its loss, learning to drive (in a land rover as opposed to the usual little bubble type cars that most people learn to drive in), and trying to fit in with his peers and all the pitfalls that entails. The heart of this story commences from 1969 through to 1971 when the army then was a very different thing to what it is today, and again, Tom Benson portrays that here to perfection. By the end of this first instalment, Jim Falkner has long since completed his basic training and is now a fully-fledged Signalman en-route to his first overseas posting to Germany. I look forward to reading of his further training and adventures…
I liked the style. It was informal and chatty, and showed the narrator to possess both tenderness and toughness without any unnecessary sentimentality. It takes a real man to cry, but most men cry a lot more on the inside than they do on the outside, and it was easy to feel the tears in the voice of the narrator – – and this is as it should be in any well-written autobiography such as this one.
I don’t know why, I’m still trying to figure it out; for some reason I felt a big lump in my throat, more so than at any other stage of my reading this book, when he describes saying goodbye to his mum, who is standing alone on her own on the platform as the train is pulling away. She was only 33 years old, with four children and a less than happy marriage. She must have felt so utterly desolate on her journey back home.
I absolutely loved the tongue in cheek humour, and to have left out any of the swear words would have done this very readable book a big injustice. Benson – – sorry, Faulkner, came across as a remarkably sensitive soul which, for reasons that baffle me, people usually do not associate with an “army- type.”
The depiction of his rites of passage came across as genuine and thoughtful. The reader is made very aware of the changes taking place in the development of the narrator’s character – – again, this is the sign of a good autobiography, one that is written straight from the heart. I have to say I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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