The Soldier's Return by Melvyn Bragg
A Novel

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Synopsis

Right from the start, when the train carrying British soldier Sam Richardson home to Wigton after his service in the Burma campaign breaks down two miles from town and he and his army comrades have to walk home, it is clear we are in the hands of a compassionate, clear-sighted writer. Bragg's work has been compared to that of Hardy and D.H. Lawrence, not without some justice. His smalltown people are closely and warmly observed, but without a shred of sentimentality, and although this story is familiar¢a man home from a dehumanizing war finds it hard to readjust¢it has seldom been imbued with such rueful humanity. For Sam, England after WWII, and after the sufferings he and his men endured in the frightful jungle campaigns, is stuffy and limiting; soon he starts dreaming of wider horizons. His adored wife, Ellen, however, is happily rooted in the little northern town where she grew up; their small son, Joe, who has hardly known his father, is bewitched but also terrified of him. How the family works out its fate in the shabby postwar years is Braggs story, and he makes of it something at once endearing and heroic. So many scenes, the regimental reunion, Joe's efforts to win friends among the tough town kids, a final scene at a railway station as heartrending as the movie Brief Encounter, linger in the mind. The book is a small classic, deeply touching and true.
 

About Melvyn Bragg

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Melvyn Bragg has written several works of non-fiction (as well as his bestselling novels) including "Speak for England", an oral history of the twentieth century; "Rich", a biography of Richard Burton; and "On Giants Shoulders", a history of science based on his BBC radio series. He was born in 1939 and educated at Oxford where he read history. He is controller of Arts at LWT and presi- dent of the National Campaign for the Arts. In 1998 he was made a life peer. He lives in London and Cumbria.
 
Published November 21, 2011 by Arcade Publishing. 255 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Soldier's Return

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Quite powerful in an understated way: a splendid portrait of a world on the verge of a new era.

Feb 23 2016 | Read Full Review of The Soldier's Return: A Novel

Kirkus Reviews

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When Sam Richardson came back with his regiment from Burma in 1946, there were no parades: The euphoria of victory had subsided pretty quickly the year before, and the folks in his hometown of Wigton were too preoccupied with rationing, unemployment, and the creation of the National Health Servic...

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Publishers Weekly

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Right from the start, when the train carrying British soldier Sam Richardson home to Wigton after his service in the Burma campaign breaks down two miles from town and he and his army comrades have

Jul 15 2002 | Read Full Review of The Soldier's Return: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Right from the start, when the train carrying British soldier Sam Richardson home to Wigton after his service in the Burma campaign breaks down two miles from town and he and his army comrades have to walk home, it is clear we are in the hands of a compassionate, clear-sighted writer.

| Read Full Review of The Soldier's Return: A Novel

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