Strange Meeting Paperback – 25 Oct 1973
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‘A remarkable feat of imaginative and descriptive writing.’ (The Times)
‘The feeling of men under appalling stress at a particular moment in history is communicated with almost uncanny power.’ (The Sunday Times)
‘Truly Astonishing.’ (The Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Susan Hill's classic novel Strange Meeting tells of the power of love amidst atrocities. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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And yet, at its heart, this is also a book about intimacy, about fellowship and companionship, about the ties that bind people in love even (or especially?) under the most unpropitious circumstances.
Hill always writes with a lucid restraint and a beautifully pared back style that means her highly-crafted writing disappears into the story, never drawing attention to itself. Emotionally acute and very human, this makes the tragedy of war fresh all over again.
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.
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