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Random Harvest (Hardback)

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,044 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
Books You Hear is genuinely proud to present Random Harvest by James Hilton. Though this story may be new to the post-WWII generations, it has an impressive history, making it, perhaps, the greatest story you've never heard of.

Published in 1941, Random Harvest was contemporary to its first audience, and is painted against the backdrop of the gathering storm in Europe. Howe
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Hardcover, 262 pages
Published May 21st 2010 by Benediction Classics (first published January 1941)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,166)
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Philip
Jan 13, 2009 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
RANDOM HARVEST is one of the two James Hilton novels I re-read about every five years or so (the other is LOST HORIZON).

It's an engrossing tale of a man who loses his memory due to being shelled in the Great War, eventually finds happiness with a young actress, and then is knocked down on a Liverpool street. He regains consciousness and knows he's a member of a prominent and wealthy family. He begins to reconstruct his life again, knowing all the while that something - and someone - is missing.
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Richda Mcnutt
Sep 14, 2012 Richda Mcnutt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading a book by James Hilton should be accompanied by curling up in your most enveloping chair and having a cup of creamy coffee or tea to sip. His writing is a style that we no longer have in literature - much like Nevil Shute. The setting is between the two World Wars in England. The main character suffers from two amnesias: after being injured in World War I, he recovers in several hospitals, but does not know his name or where he is from; then, after having a fall, he comes to on a Liverpo ...more
V.
Jun 08, 2011 V. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A mystery, a romance, a history of England between the wars. An utterly spellbinding story of lost identity and lost love.

I should confess I've always had a soft spot for the B&W movie, even though it is ridiculously melodramatic, or maybe because of that, but defintely because it starred the gloriously beautiful Greer Garson who could make a young boy roll up a sock and stuff it in his own mouth to prevent himself from crying with joy every time she appears on screen.

The book is a beautiful
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Saralyn
Apr 07, 2008 Saralyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I think this book is much better than "Good-bye Mr. Chips." Much more interesting and readable, to me. I enjoyed the story and the characters very much. Who wouldn't be intrigued by Charles Ranier? A fun book. (The movie is great, too. Greer Garson. I don't know if you should read the book first or see the movie first. They're a little different, but the movie might help you understand the book? I loved them both.)
Palmyrah
Nov 21, 2012 Palmyrah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:

James Hilton was a mid-twentieth-century English writer of bestselling middlebrow tearjerkers, a bit like Nevil Shute. He is best known today for two books that became blockbuster movies: Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and Lost Horizon, which gave the world Shangri-La.

Random Harvest is a typical example of his work. The hero, a reluctant but successful between-the-wars business magnate and politician, is haunted by missing memories: he has lost three whole years. The lacuna commences with his being wounde
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Korri
I am struck afresh by the aptness and loving detail of Hilton's description of autumnal London:

'For London...was of all cities in the world the most autumnal--its mellow brickwork harmonzing with fallen leaves and October sunsets, just as the etched grays of November composed themselves with the light and shade of Portland stone. There was a charm, a deathless charm, about a city whose inhabitants went about muttering, "The nights are drawing in," as if it were a spell to invoke the vast, spawli
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Debbie
Dec 14, 2009 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! I read this for my RS book group, and we all came so excited to talk about it. The problem is that you can't really talk about it unless you've read it, so I can't write much here without giving anything away. And if you plan to read the book, I recommend that you DON'T read the Goodreads summary. The less you know, the better, because following the story as it progresses is part of what make this book so enjoyable.

Here's what I can tell you: this takes place in England between the Wo
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Mary Simonsen
Sep 13, 2012 Mary Simonsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book 30 years ago and again last year. It is a story of love and loyalty after the First World War. The conclusion is one of the best I've ever read.
Tom Lambrecht
May 27, 2015 Tom Lambrecht rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had not read this novel before, but found it extremely engrossing. The characters were well drawn, and I could picture what it was like to live in England between the World Wars. Not many books are set in this time period, especially if they don't have anything to do with the war. This book carried suspense all the way through, with a surprise ending that I didn't see coming. I would highly recommend it for a quiet and deep journey into the lives of some interesting people caught in a highly u ...more
Mike
Dec 27, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
There's something about James Hilton's novels that generates in me a powerful emotional connection to both the characters and the "idea" explored in the work--in this case, the vertigo, confusion, and desire to re-gain a lost past felt by Britons as they entered the darkest days of WWII. Hilton's work can be passionate without being overly-sentimental, can explore the past without relying on easy nostalgia, can remain hopeful without resorting to unrealistic expectations, and can instill a hope ...more
Courtney H.
Oct 31, 2012 Courtney H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book that I did a disservice to by waiting so long to review it, but I will try. I thought this was a beautiful book, and TARDIS like: its bigger on the inside. It covers more than its story seems to, at first glance; it hides a thoughtfulness and a sadness that runs like a strand through many of Hilton's war-touched books.

Random Harvest appears at first glance to be a mystery and a love story. Through the narration of Charles’ Rainier’s secretary and confidant, it tells Rainier
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Loyola University Chicago Libraries
Great premise, disappointing follow-through. I'm very surprised that I didn't like this; other reviews praise it for being engrossing, but I found most of it to be quite dull. Charles Rainier is an English politician and businessman who can't remember a few years of his life due to a WWI head injury. While set at the eve of WWII, most of the book is comprised of flashbacks to Rainier's life, eventually including scenes from his missing years. And, of course, there are women involved -- a cold pr ...more
Javier Aviña
Estaba yo iniciando la escuela secundaria y una vez fui al cine a ver "Adiós Mister Chips"; supe luego que era la versión cinematográfica de una obra de James Hilton. Mi maestro de literatura me recomendó leer "En la noche del pasado", título en español de "Random Harvest". Siempre le agradecí la recomendación. Me adentraba yo en la literatura "de adultos" y aquella novela tuvo mucho significado para mí por eso mismo, por ser de las primeras que leí una vez dejado atrás a Verne, Salgari, etc. La ...more
Elizabeth
Great premise, disappointing follow-through. I'm very surprised that I didn't like this; other reviews praise it for being engrossing, but I found most of it to be quite dull. Charles Rainier is an English politician and businessman who can't remember a few years of his life due to a WWI head injury. While set at the eve of WWII, most of the book is comprised of flashbacks to Rainier's life, eventually including scenes from his missing years. And, of course, there are women involved -- a cold pr ...more
Peter A. MacKinney
Interesting book.

It's an interesting book but reads at times like a run on sentence. Had figured out the end, just a little before it happened.
Kent Miller
May 25, 2016 Kent Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

a selection from PART ONE: On the morning of the eleventh of November, 1937, precisely at eleven o'clock, some well-meaning busybody consulted his watch and loudly announced the hour, with the result that all of us in the dining-car felt constrained to put aside drinks and newspapers and spend the two minutes' silence in rather embarrassed stares at one another or out of the window. Not that anyone had intended disrespect--merely that in a fast-moving train we knew no rules for correct behaviour

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Laura
Apr 03, 2016 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the giveaway bookshelf at my gym, I found a worn hardcover trilogy of the 1930s novels of James Hilton: Mr. Chips, Lost Horizon, and Random Harvest. Long ago I'd read Mr. Chips, and Lost Horizon (unforgettable), but never Random Harvest. It turned out to be a good old-fashioned British yarn, with fantastic characters (especially the attractive, enigmatic Charles Rainier), great plot twists based on WWI shell-shock and amnesia, rags-to-riches reversals, intelligent-if-cynical discussions about ...more
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
A novel about a man who wakes up one day in 1919 and finds he can’t remember anything about the last three years of his life. 1941.

Full review (and other recommendations!) at Another look book

This book delighted me so much, it will probably be one of my favorite reads of 2014. I loved how it was all jumbled out of order, with the mystery of the story--what happened during those forgotten three years?--established from the very beginning. The 1942 movie adaptation puts rather more emphasis on th
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Shelley Mitchell
Jan 26, 2008 Shelley Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Shelley by: saw movie first, book is better
this is one i keep reading over and over again. an amnesia story -- who is NOT fascinated with amnesia? if i got amnesia, and was lost somewhere and unidentifiable, what kind of life would i make for myself? how close would it be to the one i lost? what influences a person's choices? who is the real ME? a wonderful story, set in england, between the two world wars, and also a love story.
Erik Graff
Nov 10, 2008 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: romantics
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
Having read Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon as a child and having liked both of them, I took a risk on this otherwise unknown novel by the same author. Although it started slowly, I stuck with it and am glad I did, it's surprise ending having quite an emotional impact.
Sarah
May 18, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I expected it to be rather dry (like the physical copy of the book itself), and melodramatic, considering the subject matter. I ended up being absolutely charmed, though I can't say quite why. The characters definitely had something to do with, being not just likable but sensible. I am not an expert on Britain or in that era between the two world wars, but I felt it did a good job conveying the different feels of the times. I also liked how the author handled the different parts, not just arbitr
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Sophie
Sep 23, 2014 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
I absolutely love the movie version of Random Harvest and had actually seen it before I read this book the first time. This is my second time for reading this, and I'm struck by what a good job the screenwriter did of adapting it for the movie. Many things had to be changed about the novel to make it work--for instance, Paula is much more of a mystery to the reader than she is in the movie--but somehow the screenwriter managed to make those changes without harming the underlying spirit of the pi ...more
Muriel Schwenck
I cannot add much that is different from the many excellent reviews already listed here.
I would add that Ronald Colman played the protagonist in both "Random Harvest" and "Lost Horizons". Although older than the characters portrayed in the novels, Colman was an actor with wonderfully expressive eyes, and is able to convey great feeling of these character. Whether you agree with the film adaptation or not, Colman does great credit to the characters. The films are worth watching, although I recom
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Audrey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gale
Jan 19, 2014 Gale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TORMENTED BY A PAST HE CAN'T RECALL

Similar to LOST HORIZON which is rcounted by an interested outsider, this novel includes some chapters told in the 3rd person. Shellshocked in 1917 during the Great War Charles Rainier found the doors of his youth slammed shut by his war experiences. Now as a mature and successful married man he seeks clues to his obliterated Past.

Hilton's tortured protagonist defies the world and risks his politcal reputation as an MP--not to mention his very marriage--to rec
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Emily
Jul 13, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Like several of the other reviewers I had already seen the movie when I picked up the book. That took away the surprise reveal at the end of the book, of course, but it was interesting to consider the different structures; the book worked backwards chronologically beginning with a successful, married Charles Rainier, while the movie started in the asylum and moved forward from that point.

While I found the film very moving, I didn't get the same emotional impact from the book - again, probably be
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Douglas
Nov 30, 2013 Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had seen Lost Horizon and Goodbye Mr. Chips. To my knowledge the former has only been made into a movie once starring the inestimable Ronald Coleman. The latter has been made into a movie several times, my favorite being the version starring Robert Donat. Recently I saw the movie Random Harvest starring, again, Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson. This peeked my interest in reading the book. Not surprisingly I liked the book and found it a lot more credible than the movie where, because of its fai ...more
Aaron Gapasin
Jan 10, 2010 Aaron Gapasin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Spoiler Alert):
Beneath the love story and the gripping tale of a man trying to remember a lost part of his life, Random Harvest is an immense commentary and critique of England between the two World Wars. It is no coincidence that this story starts with the characters half-heartedly observing Armistice Day. This of course leads to the discussion of Rainier’s memories of WWI and how disappointing life was after the war, as all participants felt there should have been some sort of “well-deserved
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Stevie Henden
Jun 09, 2013 Stevie Henden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came to read this in 2013 30 years after I first saw the movie, which Is one of my favourite films of all time.

As I started to read the book I found it rather strange, as of course it it structured in a totally different way from the movie, but as I got into it I loved it and and felt drawn through it even though of course I knew the denouement.
I particularly liked the historical perspective taken on the period between the two world wars and I loved the sense of quite how English the book is i
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Carolynne
Nov 03, 2009 Carolynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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James Hilton (1900–1954) was a bestselling English novelist and Academy Award–winning screenwriter. After attending Cambridge University, Hilton worked as a journalist until the success of his novels Lost Horizon (1933) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934) launched his career as a celebrated author. Hilton’s writing is known for its depiction of English life between the two world wars, its celebration of ...more
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“Have you ever been going somewhere with a crowd and you're certain it's the wrong road and you tell them, but they won't listen, so you just have to plod along in what you know is the wrong direction till somebody more important gets the same idea?” 51 likes
“There's only one thing more important... and that is, after you've done what you set out to do, to feel that it's been worth doing.” 22 likes
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