Cover image for The soldier's return : a novel
The soldier's return : a novel
Bragg, Melvyn, 1939-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. : Distributed by AOL Time Warner Book Group, [2002]

Physical Description:
346 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"First published in 1999 by Hodder and Stoughton"--T.p. verso.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.9 15.0 69439.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When Sam Richardson returns in 1946 from the Forgotten War in Burma to his home in England, he finds the war has changed him and his family. As they strive to adjust, the bonds of love and loyalty are stretched to the breaking point in this taut and profoundly moving novel.

Author Notes

Melvyn Bragg is a British writer and broadcaster. His novels include The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Soldier's Return, winner of the WHSmith Literary Award, A Son of War and Crossing the Lines, both of which were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and most recently Grace and Mary. He has also written several works of non-fiction, the latest being The Book of Books about the King James Bible. In 2015, his book The Adventure of English became a New York Times bestseller. He lives in London and Cumbria.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It's 1946, World War II has finally drawn to a close, and Sam Richardson has returned to his home in England after seeing action in Burma. He has been looking forward to being reunited with his wife, Ellen, and six-year-old son, Joe, since the day he left for the war. But pleased as he is to be home, Sam is overcome by a sense of restlessness and frustration. His wife and son have become strangers, he still suffers terrifying nightmares about the atrocities he witnessed during the war, his factory job is unfulfilling, and the friends and neighbors he once enjoyed are now a source of irritation. As Sam struggles to readjust to the postwar world, his wife and son try to understand the troubled "returning soldier" who is their husband and father. Bragg weaves a powerful, deeply moving story of a family and a society torn apart by war. His straightforward prose and the measured pace of his writing allow readers to savor every nuance of life in a small town in postwar England, and the depth and reality of his characters and his ability to bring the horrors of war alive are nothing short of brilliant. An impressive performance, not to be missed. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Braggs 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, Joes 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. (Aug.) Forecast: Bragg is well known as a broadcaster and successful novelist in Britain, where this was published three years ago. Americans deserve to know Braggs work better, and booksellers can safely recommend this to admirers of classic English literature. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.