Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The First of July: A Novel Hardcover – November 14, 2013
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
This well-told, well-plotted war epic from British novelist Speller (The Return of Captain John Emmett) tracks the life experiences of four disparate Allied soldiers fighting in the bloody Battle of the Somme. Jean-Baptiste Mallet is a French blacksmith apprentice who leaves his village for Paris; Benedict Chatto is a talented British music student and organist; Harry Sydenham is a British entrepreneur residing in New York City with his American wife, Marina; and the methodical Frank Stanton is a carpenter and coffin maker in London with an enthusiasm for racing bicycles. Each young man is swept into the First World War&'s maelstrom and serves in a different capacity: Frank&'s duty as a cyclist messenger is perhaps the most colorful and dangerous. Harry plans to join the American army later in the conflict before he reconsiders and follows his family&'s tradition of military service, enlisting as an officer. Benedict is commissioned as an artillery officer, and Jean-Baptiste is an infantry grunt manning the grim frontline trenches on the Somme. He is injured, transported to a field hospital, and spared any direct involvement when the offensive is launched. The four soldiers encounter each other on occasion, while the stark battlefield scenes evoke Hemingwayesque realism in Speller&'s unsentimental, always engaging literary war narrative. (Nov.)
*Starred Review* Utterly gripping and completely immersing, Speller’s historical novel of WWI captures the experience of four very different young men during the war’s early years, leading up to one of the grimmest campaigns, the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916. Elegant writing steeped in atmospheric realism describes a journey undertaken by men with a mistrustful reluctance. The moody, melancholy tone of the novel is signature for Speller, as evidenced in her biography of Emperor Hadrian and her two Laurence Bartram novels. Here we go to war with Jean-Baptiste, a working-class French country boy with a penchant for fishing and a mother unlucky in love; Frank, a working-class Londoner and wartime bicycle messenger; Benedict, whose love of Theo drives his selfless heroism; and Harry, a successful New York businessman with a hidden pedigree. As the war progresses, their stories converge in a pointillist portrait of the trench-riddled landscape and those upon whose frail shoulders the battle depends. Gritty, disturbing, moody, and intensely real, the novel’s psychological impact is like those of Mary Doria Russell’s A Thread of Grace (2005) and Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (2007) and asks readers to consider war’s high costs. Great book-club fare. --Jen Baker
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
It examines different men, in different countries, who make extreme sacrifices for very different reasons. Following their individual stories and appreciating the uniqueness of each character becomes a sad joy as we learn their fates in the horribly bloody battles of WWI.
The writing is excellent--descriptive yet right and objective.
I will definitely read another pic her books
It was a terrible war. I regret not talking to more of the participants while they were still alive