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A Son of War Paperback – 21 Mar 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 2 edition (21 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340818166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340818169
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 29 Jun. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm an American reader who has admired Melvyn Bragg's literary works for many years, first his Richard Burton biography back in the '80s, then, once discovered, his fiction - representing my favorite and I think most under-appreciated of his talents. Too few of his novels make it to these shores, although thanks to I have been able to obtain them anyway.
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The second of a trilogy, this book deepens the character portrayal of what is taken to be Bragg's family. The core family- father, mother and son - is extended by the introduction of a previously unknown brother for Joe's (Bragg's) mother, Ellen. All the characters are skilfully developed in the setting of a grey but much loved Northern English town. The mood is sombre, almost depressing. The most fascinating aspect of this book is the attempt to portray what amounts to teenage schizophrenia in Joe. The inexorable march of puberty is well portrayed, but the deeper and more sinister problem of mental illness is handled with honesty and conviction. I found the reactions of the mother (Ellen) to be a little less than convincing, but the father figure (Sam) becomes more and more impressive.
Compelling reading within a style that is idiosyncratic but very readable.
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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
When Sam Richardson returns home to Wigton, a small village in Cumbria, after World War II, he recognizes his limited future there and the social barriers. Because his wife Ellen and small son Joe have spent their entire lives there, however, he chooses to remain, rather than go to Australia to start a new life, and he must now learn to adapt to peace as effectively as he once adapted to war. Wigton, however, represents "his limitations, his predestined mediocrity, his inevitable failure to be at the full stretch of himself," and he feels stifled.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
With this cracking sequel to the Soldier's Return, Bragg continues to breathe life into post-war Wigton. Based in his home town, the novel is a covincing read that does not disappoint. Local readers will recognise the landscape, while those from further afield will surely want to visit.
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!
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