Monday, July 11, 2011

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller

A schoolboy’s scarf, a hair clasp, and an old photograph are practically all that remain of a young soldier’s life when he returns to Britain after the First war. His family and his neighbors all suspect that even his sanity is lost. After Captain John Emmett’s apparent suicide, his younger sister contacts an old school chum, Laurence, to see if he can tell her why young Emmett had to die. The author, Elizabeth Speller, manages to evoke a period of time when life was different and yet familiar. She adds another important figure to the mix who feels as real as the triptych described above: Chas, another boyhood friend of Laurence, and an acquaintance of John’s. Chas is both explainer and finder of obscure links. He is indispensable, because shortly we discover that John’s death is not as it seems.

Based on several true stories of soldiers serving the British army in World War I, The Return of Captain John Emmett tells a tangled tale of love, murder, and revenge. Slow-paced and literate, this invokes all the pain and heartbreak of the time, introducing us to the lost men who returned from the trenches without the strength of spirit they’d gone with. What gave the novel its depth was the evocation of the poetry that was created at the time. I left needing to read again the lines penned by the broken men who survived the trenches, only to succumb to the peace.

Readers who relish the work of Charles Todd, and Jacqueline Winspear will find this a welcome new voice.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

No comments:

Post a Comment