Friday, March 09, 2007

The Return of the Soldier

This first novel by Rebecca West was published in 1918. It is short but holds tremendous rewards for the attentive reader. Focusing on the return of a shell-shocked soldier suffering from amnesia, the novel presents a world turned upside down by the effect of the soldier's illness on his internal life as well as his relationships with his wife, sister, and former lover (from before his marriage). The author highlights the impact of class differences while she weaves some beautiful prose in descriptions both of the countryside and the characters' feelings. It is an elegant small novel and was a strong start for the career of Dame Rebecca.

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