From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In 1946, Englishman Sam Richardson returns to his wife and young son after fighting in the "Forgotten War" in Burma. Like so many who fought beside him and lived to return, Sam feels suffocated by life in tiny rural Wigton. The men who were left behind ask too many painful questions, and nightmares rob Sam of sleep. Work is scarce and demeaning, and rebuilding his life with his wife, Ellen, and young son, Joe, is fraught with awkwardness, misunderstanding, and frustration. Ellen wants a home with a garden and maybe a second child, and Sam is tempted by the government's offer of relocation to Australia. In the end, readjustment nearly destroys Sam's family. This latest work from Bragg (A Time To Dance; On Giants' Shoulders) is thoughtful, sensitive, and alive to the raw edges of relationships under repair, and he writes with delicacy and remarkable strength about rural England's struggle to return to the security of a past forever changed by the war. This work won the 1999 W.H. Smith Literary Award, and its sequel, Son of War, is already a best seller in England. This is among the best of the many post-World War II novels coming from England, which include Mick Jackson's Five Boys and Andrew Greig's The Clouds Above. Highly recommended for all popular fiction collections. Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.