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on 19 July 2000
I first read this book about 15 years ago. Unfortunately I had seen the marvellous film version (Greer Garson/Ronald Coleman) many times before, so knew the ending. Hoever, I would thoroughly recommend this book - it is so well written and one of the very few books that I have read that I actually have cried whilst doing so! It was written during the 2nd World War but is about events concerning the 1st World War. I would recommend (by the same author) 'Goodbye Mr. Chips' also.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 18 September 2013
I came across a reference to this as a film version, in a book published in the 1960s, and I was intrigued by the story it offered. First published in 1941, this wonderful book tells the story of Charles Rainier. A young man first meets Charles Rainier on a train journey in 1937; it being the 11th November, the conversation turns to the War which ended in 1918. As the young man meets Charles again, their conversation returns to the War, and Charles' tale starts to unfold. We hear of a young man serving in France who remembers nothing beyond an attack on the field of battle. Then, we hear of a man who comes to consciousness in 1919 knowing who he is, but little more than that. Regaining his life from before the War, he has no memory of what happened to him in the interim. As the story unfolds we follow Charles, England and Europe as a whole from the end of the War which we know as the First World War, as politics, culture, economics and other factors seem to slide inexorably towards what may be another War to engulf the whole world.

This story succeeds on several levels; the personal story of Charles is a fascinating one, and we are with him as his life starts to come round to some sort of resolution. But as well, we are treated to the story of England after the First War as it moves through the years towards the next War. This in itself is an intriguing narration to someone in this day and age, when what life must have been like during this part of the twentieth century is very difficult for us to conceive. The events must have been raw when first written and published in 1941. The resurrection of a man and of a nation is encompassed in this wonderful book. I can see why it would have made a tremendous film (albeit changed somewhat to make it a visual experience, rather than an internal experience to be read). Absolutely marvellous.
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on 1 December 1998
An exquisite wartime romance that bears a few resemblances to The English Patient, James Hilton's time-spinning tale is the type of book that grabs you in its first paragraph and leaves you breathless with its last sentence. Just make sure you don't see the wonderful, more straightforward Ronald Colman-Greer Garson film version first. The heartstopping plot twist at the end makes everything that goes before even more magical. Random Harvest is one of those books that you'll read and re-read for many years; I know I have, three times already.
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on 9 June 2002
A shell shocked man in a mental institution who has no hope of ever being claimed by his family and released from the mental home. Named Smith by the medical authoritys,and with no hope or confidence in himself.By a chance meeting with a
women in a shop who is in Music Hall entertainment
Smithy, as she calls him finds some one who helps
and protects him from the searching medical authoritys and get's him back on the road to living and finding out who he is.She looses him again in a freak accident, and searches for him and finds him and stays at his side as his wife until he himself finds out who he really is,she holds on to her Smithy her term of endearment for him.A marvelious unfolding story that will hold you until the end.This book and it's story are as good as Good By Mr Chips.
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on 25 December 2010
I Have watched the Classic Movie of this Book many times over the years and have thoroughly enjoyed it every time ... the ending always 'gets me'... pass the tissues!!

I decided that it was about time that I checked out the original Novel as it was before the Hollywood 'dream machine' got at it!

I was surprised at just how much is in the book that does not appear in the film. I seemed to be about halfway through the Novel before the 'Movie Story' proper commences.

The Movie follows the book pretty faithfully when it reaches that point although some locations are changed and, happily, one or two holes in the Movie Plot are filled in nicely ... Like, how the 'run away' couple manage to live in that Fairytale Rented Devon Cottage when financially strapped? (answer, they didn't live there at all)

I really did enjoy the book though, it padded out the Movie story, rounding off the characters nicely, the Book is narrated by a Male Character, an employee of 'Smithy' who, in the film accompanies him to Melbridge and the Tobacconist's Shop there where 'Smithy's' long lost memory begins to return.

The book lacks the high emotion and tension generated in the film , I doubt that anyone who has not seen the film would imagine that such a good Movie could be made from this book...that is a tribute to the Greer Garson, Ronald Coleman, the Screenwriter and Director who collectively made the Movie such a success.

The lovely ending in the Movie is similar but somewhat different and very much understated in the book .... this, is definitely a case where it would have been best to read the book first for the 'Story'...then see the film for the brilliant portrayal of the emotion and sentiment of the essentials of the Tale... the Movie is wonderful, the book well worth reading.
I found it fascinating and interestinly non-putdownable as I sought out the places where the Movie dipped in and out of the Novel and found the bits that 'Hollywood' had thought necessary to change or add.

If you have seen the film, you will enjoy the book ... if you have not seen the Movie ... and you enjoy the book, then track down the not easy to find DVD .. you will thoroughly enjoy it ... Oh, have plenty of tissues to hand!

Well worth a buy ...just one niggle ..why a front cover photo of 2nd World War American GI's? when the film features all British Characters in 1917-1939 England!
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on 16 July 2013
I remember when I was around 15 my dad told me about the film Random Harvest with Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson and how it was one of his favourite films. I sat down and watched it one day with dad and it became one of my favourite films there and then of all time. Ten years later I decided to read the book. They are both equally amazing. To be honest I personally think that the film was better but this is still a 5 star book. If you haven't seen the film and read the book for the first time there is a twist at the end of it which alas the film cannot do (for reasons you will find out). A real page turner about the life of a WWI solider after the war. He has been put into an asylum because he cannot remember who he is, he manages to escape and meets the lovely Paula whom he falls in love with. Then he goes into Liverpool on business one day, has an accident and when he wakes up he assumes his identify from before and war and forgets about Paula. That is the story in a nutshell. A truly wonderful read!!
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on 24 January 2013
It is interesting see how great film scripts are developed from slightly flawed novels.
The film version tidied up the narrative by sticking to chronological order, still managing to pull off little surprises.
The book however has started towards the end and uses flashbacks. I am only some half way through the book so
there may be surprises in store compared to the film. A problem is deducing the identity of the narrator, a character in the story, who seemingly should not be present in some scenes.

However there are brilliant touches, the agreement to reapportion the inheritance when the supposedly dead son appears just before his father's death, also the description of the butler.

A good companion to the DVD of a great film.
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on 11 June 2013
This is a masterpiece. It has a dark side, and a joyous heart rending thread. There are all things here. A combination of charm, mystery, wit, pain, confusion, loss and warmth. It is involving and compelling. What has this man lost? What is missing? Who is missing? Is he himself lost in the memories he cannot recover? The hearts uncovered here are our own, in search desperately and longing for completion.
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on 12 September 2014
An appalling edition which I couldn't bring myself to read. I've bought better photocopies - which, this more or less, is. It must be American in origin - no other country typesets so badly.
Sorry Mr Hilton, your immortality must be put on hold.
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on 30 August 2014
Read this many years ago. Well written love story set at the end of WW1 about a soldier who probably suffering from shell-shock and has lost his memory escapes from an asylum on Armistice Day. Well written novel.
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