A Son of War Paperback – 21 Mar 2002
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Melvyn Bragg's A Son of War begins where A Soldier's Return ended. The previous novel--a moving account of the struggles, social and psychological, faced by a Burma veteran returning to Cumbrian hometown life with his wife and six-year-old son--picked up the WH Smith 1999 Literary Award. But whereas A Soldier's Return was largely Sam's story, Bragg here gives equal weight to Ellen, with her wide-eyed adoration for a long-lost brother and her high hopes of life on the new edge-of-town estate, cruelly foiled by Sam's dreams of owning a pub. But central is the "son of war", the endearing Joe, torn between being "Sam's lad" and "Ellen's boy", the fledgling boxer or the budding pianist.
Bragg evokes well the petty yet momentous discoveries of a young boy, equally fixated on Disney's Snow White and girls doing handstands. While this is very much the personal story of one family, with heavy hints of autobiography, it's also the picture of Britain emerging from the war, throwing off Glenn Miller and Bing Crosby--a new Britain of rationing, the Big Freeze and strikes, talk of nuclear war, socialism, Joe Louis versus Jersey Joe Walcott. Once again, Bragg has succeeded in conjuring an epoch of unprecedented change, and capturing both its joys and its miseries: a worthy successor to The Soldier's Return -- Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
[A] deeply humane and acutely truthful novel (Peter Kemp, Sunday Times)
A compelling sequel to his award-winning tour de force, THE SOLDIER'S RETURN (Frank Egerton, Financial Times)
Full of a simple poetry that is deeply evocative . . . even better than THE SOLDIER'S RETURN (Carol Birch, Independent)
A novel of remarkable power and grace . . . his authenticity is astounding (Roy Hattersley, The Times)
Shot through with blazing integrity and authenticity (Val Hennessy, Daily Mail)
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Top Customer Reviews
With A Son Of War, however, he may have picked up a jet stream. This is his most personalized and at the same time, English colloquialisms notwithstanding, universal work of fiction. Up until now, I would have said his finest talent has been for historical novels - the ability to carry readers into past eras, embodied in characters hundreds of years old.
With The Soldier's Return he began to express an inner voice. And now, in A Son Of War, that voice has hit its stride, transporting this reader, raised on the west coast of the United States post-WWII, full-bore into the post-war childhood of a Cumbrian boy.
Despite today's demands for quirky literary styles and power-punch storylines, Melvyn Bragg's work continues to represent my ideal in fiction writing. Classic, in the sense that it is free of pretension, gimmickry, yet always contemporary in its flow of consciousness - lyrical, pure mastery of the language, devoid of trickery, yet ready to throw the rules out the window to conjure the vision. Reading his novels, more than anyone else's today, invariable sends me, a writer with hopes of seeing print myself one day, scurrying to the keyboard to capture ideas he sets in motion in my head before they can be supplanted by his very next passage.
A Son Of War, I believe, is Bragg's most moving work to date. I would recommend it to anyone with a love for the English language.
I would recommend it to anyone, no matter the nationality, who has ever been a child.
Compelling reading within a style that is idiosyncratic but very readable.
Small events and everyday life, not dramatic plot lines, become the focus of the novel as Sam works at the local factory, tries to reestablish his relationship with his wife Ellen, and serves as a masculine role model for his son Joe. Sam is an Everyman--a man without an education who is dependent upon "the system" for his family's welfare, a man who must put up with slights and insults by his factory bosses if he wants to keep his job, a man for whom there is little or no opportunity for independent thought and action. Sam's big decision to set up his own business is a decision he makes alone, even though it will require enormous sacrifices by the whole family.
The daily lives of the Richardson family reveal the social, political, and economic issues of rural England from the end of the war through 1954. Dividing the novel into several sections, Bragg conveys the viewpoints of Sam, Ellen, and Joe through plain-spoken dialogues and interior monologues, short sentences, and simple vocabulary. We see Ellen's joy at finally having a house of her own in Greenacres, a public housing development, but also her dislike of the distance from town.Read more ›
This is a book about the effects of war rather than war itself. The plot is steady rather than exciting and there are no gory battles or sensational action. Despite this, Bragg takes the reader to unwritten horrors and creates a sense of all-pervading trauma that he wrestles against the tentative rays of hope. These tensions and contradictions are explored through complex and compelling characters. You will feel pain for the one's you like and pity for those you don't.
Like it's predecessor, A Son of War left me wanting more. Bragg faces a challenge if he aims to match this. Let's hope he can!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another good book from Melvyn Bragg. Love the way he writes, very descriptive.Published 3 months ago by Freddie
Just ordered Crossing the lines, which is the next, wonderful reading, whisked back to a bygone era, Melvyn Bragg geniusPublished 10 months ago by Swanny
An excellent read although I found that as more names were added to the story it became a little harder to follow. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mr George Clarke
I did not enjoy this book at all, there is no real story line and no clear characterisation.Published 19 months ago by Jackie S.