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In Pale Battalions Paperback – May 29, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385339208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385339209
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in England during and after WW I, this is the story of three generations: the two Leonoras, mother and child (and their husbands, both handsome, adoring, young army officers), and of Penelope, who at length unravels the twisted skeins of her mother's and grandmother's past to discover herself. In the prologue, the younger Leonora, now a grandmother, takes her daughter Penelope to France to visit the memorial to those killed on the Somme in 1916. Her father, Captain John Hallows is listed there, but, Leonora points out, he died more than a year before her birth. By way of explanation, Leonora relates the story of her childhood as an orphan in the mansion of Meonsgate sp ok in Hampshire, under the tyranny of her greedy, power-hungry step-grandmother. Young Leonora eventually escapes to a happy marriage and finally discovers the truth about her parentsespecially about her mother, who had been described to her as a whorethrough the device of a stranger's tale: not an ancient mariner's, but an old soldier's. But there is more, and Penelope is the one who hears the true storyor is it? Goddard ( Past Caring ) has crafted a marvelously intricate plot, deftly and subtly unveiling, through different narrative voices, the mystery at the core of this intense, shocking tale. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild alternate.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the best tradition of British storytelling, here murder, deceit, family honor, and intrigue are intricately woven into a compelling drama of decadent British aristocracy set during World War I. Leonora Galloway, who has for 50 years meticulously shunned discussion of her unpleasant childhood at the family ancestral home near Portsmouth, reveals her past to her daughter. In a controlled and measured way, Leonora recounts her tale, which includes discussion of Leonora's own questionable parentage, the details of an unsolved murder that occurred before she was born, her father's desertion from the army, and the ignominious end of a revered family name and a noble house. Enthralling to the final page. Literary Guild Alternate.Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale Lib.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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The plot has rather too many twists, and at the same time has long slow periods.
Keklemenos
The story in "Pale Battalions" is very complicated and is told in the first-person voices of three characters.
Jill Meyer
With so many plot twists and turns this is a book you can't put down until you've finally finished it.
Jolee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jenn on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you haven't ever read Goddard, start here, please! This book, despite dealing with some really thorny issues such as war, mistaken identity, blackmail, and abuse, retains such a misty quality about the narrative that you feel as if you are walking in someone else's dream. The mystery, far from being, shallow and gorey, like some American thrillers, insteady takes it's tension from a deep, involved and complicated series of realtionships and webs of lies that intruige the mind.
The story begins and ends with a mother taking her daughter on a walk through the WWI battlefield monuments of France, and explaining what has consumed her for most of her life: who her father was. The answer, given to her by a strange old artist, will surprise you.
If you want a deep, intelligent mystery, you must read this book!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jolee on February 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
With so many plot twists and turns this is a book you can't put down until you've finally finished it. Most of the book is set during the time of World war I. Without being preachy the reader has insight to how the characters feel about the war, and how it changes their lives. Few, if any WW I vets are left to tell their story, I think that Robert Goddard gives us a little understanding into what fighting in the trenches meant, and the waste of lives that ensued. All the characters are well developed, but yet the author still manages to surprise the reader. Just when the reading thinks he/she has worked out the plot, there is another twist that leaves the reader breathless and wanting more. This is my favorite Robert Goddard book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stan Vernooy on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a woman's search for the truth about the identity of her parents and the circumstances of her birth and early childhood. It is certainly not the first book I've ever read on that theme, but it is the best.

The woman, Leonora, was born during the first World War. Her father was a war hero who died in the murderous killing fields of the European slaughter. But wait a minute: the dates - her own birth and her purported father's death - don't match up. What is the real truth?

Leonora remembers Olivia, her witch of a step-grandmother, and and of course remembers what Olivia told her about her origins. But there wasn't much detail there, and Olivia was so spiteful that anything she said had to be taken with a grain of salt. And over the course of her life, Leonora manages to piece together the truth. Maybe.

Leonora learns some of the stories by virtue of her own research, and some other things she learns accidentally when she is contacted by people who were in a position to know SOME of the story. It is that word "some" that makes this book so fascinating. No single individual or set of documents is able to produce a logically consistent explanation for everything that happened. There is always at least one loose end. But Leonora persists, and finally, as an elderly woman, she believes she has pieced together the whole story.

The book is told flashback fashion, as Leonora relates the entire story to her daughter Penelope, who is by now a grown woman. And it can't escape the reader's attention that almost every bit of information Leonora has acquired has come to her as part of an oral history, related by someone who might have his or her own axe to grind.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By V. Ackroyd on November 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
It was poignant reading this book the week of Remembrance. While I have read many books about WWI, I never cease to be affected when I read another. This book is very well written. It has that soft, English quality with depictions of stately manor homes, weather, proper English gentlemen. But it also uncovers the seedy underside that is so often depicted about Victorian-Edwardian England: perversion, abuse, dishonor. This tale though has some very unusual twists to it and every time I thought I had figured the whole story out, it took yet another one.
I have read one other Goddard and this is by far his best!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to classify this book. It's a romance. It's historic fiction, plus you could call it a "thriller." It's a mystery as well. I throughly enjoyed the novel and a year later went back for a re-read. It was still captivating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Alves on January 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently discovered this author after reading a column by Stephen King about his favorite books of 2008. He mentioned this author and how dazzled his was by the excellence of his writing. I agree! I recently purchased this and two other of his novels, and I plan to read them all. Mr. Goddard combines historical backgrounds with very compelling fiction. Treat yourself today and purchase one of Mr. Goddards novels. You won't be able to put the book down.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on May 28, 2007
Format: Audio Cassette
Six months after her husband's sudden death, Leonora Galloway sets off for a holiday in Paris with her daughter Penelope. At last the time has come when secrets can be shared and explanations begin...

Their journey starts with an unscheduled stop at the imposing Thiepval Memorial to the dead of the Battle of the Somme near Amiens. Amongst those commemorated is Leonora's father. The date of his death is recorded as 30th April, 1916. But Leonora wasn't born until 14th March 1917.

Penelope at once supposes a simple wartime illegitimacy as the clue to her mother's unhappy childhood and the family's sundered connections with her aristocratic heritage, about which she has always known so little. But nothing could have prepared her, or the reader, for the extraordinary story that is about to unfold.

The story is very cleverly designed, every event fits into its place like in a giant gigsaw puzzle. Little by little the reader discovers what secrets lie behind Leonora's past. The book is extremely well read by Tony Britton for BBC audiobooks.
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