1920. The Great War has been over for two years, and it has left a very different world from the Edwardian certainties of 1914. Following the death of his wife and baby and his experiences on the Western Front, Laurence Bartram has become something of a recluse. Yet death and the aftermath of the conflict continue to cast a pall over peacetime England, and when a young woman he once knew persuades him to look into events that apparently led her brother, John Emmett, to kill himself, Laurence is forced to revisit the darkest parts of the war. As Laurence unravels the connections between Captain Emmett’s suicide, a group of war poets, a bitter regimental feud and a hidden love affair, more disquieting deaths are exposed. Even at the moment Laurence begins to live again, it dawns on him that nothing is as it seems, and that even those closest to him have their secrets . . .
©2010 Elizabeth Speller (P)2011 Hachette Digital
"If you like to kick back with some very high-class literary wallowing, this fabulously enjoyable novel has absolutely everything. Speller’s writing is gorgeous, her research immaculate and very lightly worn. Sheer bliss". (Kate Saunders, THE TIMES)
"With its portrait of a war-blighted nation, Elizabeth Speller’s gripping first novel shares territory with Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy . . . Speller offers a fast-paced literary thriller . . . This is a remarkable piece of storytelling . . . Equally impressive is Speller’s portrait of a fearful and class-ridden England after the armistice." (FINANCIAL TIMES)
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This story transports you back in time to a few years after the first world war. It focuses on a search to discover whether John Emmett, a man who returned from the war in one piece in his body though not in his mind, committed suicide. The narrative leads his old friend to try and solve the mystery by meeting with some of the people who knew him, and they relate their stories which are sometimes traumatic. I thoroughly enjoyed this audible book and if you like historical novels I'd recommend it.
"Great to find a new voice"
One of the great things about Audible membership is the way it encourages you to try new authors. Elizabeth Speller was new to me, but I'll be looking out for her in future. A moving story about the effects of war and conflict.
"Could have been so much better"
This audiobook showed so much promise and could have been so much better. I thought the premise of the book extremely promising and I was completely drawn into the mystery of John Emmett and the lives of those young men so affected by their experiences in the First World War. However it fails for two main reasons: there were too many characters and in an audiobook it is easy to lose track of who they all are. Secondly, this could have been a much shorter and tighter book as after half way through it became plodding and dragged on unnecessarily.
On a more positive note , the narrator is one of the best I have heard and there was excellent description and characterisation. With better editing I hope Speller's next book will be a 5 star listen!
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