The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Written during WWI, I honestly thought this would be more about the war, but no, we get a sneaky peek into the inner workings of a man who came home, shell-shocked, only to find himself in an untenable position.
What? Has his wife left him for another man? No. He seems to have another kind of problem. ED? No, no, no... MEMORY LOSS. Sheesh. People.
Seriously though, this is a great snapshot of a time when so many men were voiceless. Indeed, as seen through the three women in his life... his wife, his old fiancé, and a female cousin... he's still pretty voiceless. The trick is in reading between the lines, or inferring from everything that happens in this plot and sometimes in letters we're not privy to, that gives this soldier his voice.
This is a romance, folks. A fascinating one, even. Lots of gray areas. And three women who only want to see him be happy.
Of course, the issue is clear and clearly horrible to contemplate.
A very thought provoking novella.
And for those of you who love period pieces and revel in really awkward class stratifications, this is also for you. :)
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