The Return of the Soldier is a novella which was written by Rebecca West and published in 1918.
This novella is about a wealthy English man who ends up fights in the trenches during the First World War. He returns from the trenches suffering with shell shock and memory loss that causes him to forget the past fifteen years of his life.
The effects of the soldier’s illness on his life as well as his relationship with his wife, cousin and his first love turns there world upside down.
Throughout this novella some key issues/factors are seen such as love, war, grief, memory, class, etc and they examine the relationship between a shell-shocked soldier and three important women in his life. Rebecca West focuses on these four characters however, there is a wider background which involves the chaos of war and of the changing society that is implicit throughout.
One of the aspects of The Return of the Soldier that I loved was the fact that from the very start questions were raised in my head. From this point onwards West engaged the reader by capturing the sense of place brilliantly, her description of the surrounding were just incrediblem she also uses colour and light brilliantly as well as portraying the horrors of war.The aspects of the relationship between the main characters, and also the way in which they change and adapt with the time period have been portrayed with believability and such beauty.
This beautiful novella was just incredible it in a way gives the reader such a nostalgic, old fashioned, romantic feeling of a bygone time.
This was my first taste of Rebecca West’s writing and all I can say is that it was incredible whether it was her writing style, description or story telling this definitely will not be the last of her books for me.
Read Originially: 29th September, 2015
The edition that I read was published by Virago (2009).
(Image from Google Images)