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The Soldier's Return

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  329 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
When Sam Richardson returns in 1946 from the "Forgotten War" in Burma to his hometown in northern England, he finds little changed. The war has changed him, however, broadening his horizons but also leaving him deeply scarred with traumatic, often hellish, memories. In addition, his six-year-old son Joe barely remembers him, and his wife has gained a new sense of independe ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published July 10th 2003 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 643)
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Jul 25, 2015 Suzy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww2-fiction
A really enjoyable, moving and thought-provoking look at everyday life for one family when the husband (Sam) returns from serving in World War Two. The story shows how lives change and expectations are unfulfilled for all the family and their friends /neighbours. Ellen and Joe (Sam's wife and son) had got into a routine of living which is turned upside down with Sam's return. Ellen waited so long for him to return safely, but then reality doesn't match her expectations as Sam seems to have chang ...more
Dec 26, 2015 Wanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Geevee
Shelves: nookbooks
26 DEC 2015 - notice of this book on sale came through via email. I see Geevee rated this a 4. I am certain I will enjoy reading this one, too.
Aug 14, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it
It's many years since I read a Melvyn Bragg book and, since i have lived in Cumbria for decades now, I felt I should read more. I saw the excellent documentary on his life on TV recently and chose this book as the best one to take up now.

A soldier returns to his small Cumbrian town from Burma at the end of World War 2 to his wife and son. With the horrors of what he had witnessed still firmly in his mind, and yet unsettled from seeing so much more of the world than Wigton allowed, Sam finds dome
Kris McCracken
Jan 21, 2016 Kris McCracken rated it really liked it
The story for the most part concerns that of a man returning to his wife and son after serving in Burma during WWII. No doubt like many of his generation, the central character feels suffocated by life in small town Wigton (in Cumbria, just out of Carlisle). For mine, Bragg effectively captures the inner turmoil and unrest that must have troubled men like Sam Richardson. Those who didn't serve have a tendency to ask too many painful questions (and would not doubt not really want to hear the answ ...more
Anthony Peter
Jan 03, 2016 Anthony Peter rated it really liked it
I struggled a bit with this, but think it's rather better than my fractured enjoyment of it suggested.

I remember reading 'Lark Rise to Candleford' when I was at school (compulsory reading, small book, tiny print, story by which I was unriveted), and 'The Soldier's Return' affected me in something of the same way. I hazard that it's because they are both books that lie somewhere between the novel and a eulogy to a place. In respect of the latter, I thought 'The Soldier's Return' worked well, and
Kate Millin
By the time corporal Sam Richardson returns from Burma to his Cumbrian hometown of Wigton, the bunting's long gone, and Sam, like everybody else, wants to get back to normal. But his plans to return to family life with Ellen and six- year-old son Joe don't run smooth. The war has taken away his old job, while Ellen holds down two; Joe's been raised with other men as father-figures; and Sam struggles to repress what he's witnessed out east. This novel explores the most unsettling of experiences: ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaqui Lane
Jan 01, 2015 Jaqui Lane rated it really liked it
Read this book over a day-and-a-half. I come to Melvyn Bragg only recently and read A Son of War first...not that it mattered. The Soldier's Return is a beautifully restrained insight on what it must be like for any soldier to return home. Nothing is the same but the ache for it to be what was fought for is strong. Worth reading given we still live with soldier's returning from war....will anyone ever learn?
Carol Rizzardi
Sep 07, 2012 Carol Rizzardi rated it really liked it
I appreciated the author's facility in creating totally believable characters and in capturing the different responses of each to the situations presented. No one talked about PTSS in 1946, yet veterans certainly suffered from it. The strong desire to return to normalcy after war is in direct conflict witht he reality that nothing is every "normal" again.

While I found myself frustrated with the inability of the characters to really communicate, I also realized that this rather than the inverse i
Feb 27, 2011 Anne rated it liked it
About a soldier's return after the Burmese war (the one that went on for a year after the European war ended and saw some of the worst atrocities). He returns to a small village in Cumbria to find it the same but not the same. The women have had jobs and don't want to go back to being housewives. His small village assumes he will fit back into his proper station in life, but, despite having little education, he has learned to be a leader and to want to know more during the war. The book is well ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Linny rated it really liked it
terrific story about returning alive from WWII Burma before concept of PTSD, described over time the very thing and the slow destruction of a marriage. Read more of Bragg. Fine tuned, subtle, not plot driven but character, only a few scenes depicting the horrors to back up the deterioration of a person.
Tim Corke
Beautiful, harrowing, warm, sad, honest, love; just some of the words you could use to describe this common tale from the end of WW2 when the men who left English shores with pride to fight for King and country returned with their souls tormented. When Sam left Ellen to fight in Burma, the horrors that he endured changed their relationship upon his return. Seeing his living pals stricken with mental health issues or reliving the brutal deaths of those e served with, Sam wanted more than the loca ...more
Apr 09, 2010 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I wasn’t sure what to expect of Melvyn Bragg. Although I liked the sound of the book, and went as far as to read the first few pages before I went ahead and nominated it to the rest of the group, I was concerned that it might be a bit heavy going, but on the contrary, it was a very easy read. In fact, in some places it reminded me of the Catherine Cookson books that I couldn’t get enough of in my teenage years!

Don’t get me wrong - I did enjoy it, but I somehow expected a bit more substance to it
May 28, 2013 Courtney rated it really liked it
I thought this was a really good book. It is about a family-Sam-a soldier who returns home after war, Ellen-his wife, and Joe-his young son. It is all about how they readjust to having Sam back home after the war and how life has changed and how Sam has changed. This was set in 1946 in England-way before the days of PTSD were diagnosed in soldiers returning from war. Sam is very much a classic PTSD and late in the book you find out why that is. There were some parts like the carnival which I cou ...more
Sue Roselle
Feb 01, 2014 Sue Roselle rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing and gentle novel of the return of a soldier from Burma to small village England. Adaptation to family and work following an absence of four years is focus of story. Each character well developed. Washington Post said this is "English literature at its best."
Aug 19, 2014 Fi rated it it was amazing
So many books end with the return of the conquering hero & leave the impression that, now the family are reunited, they'll live happily ever after. Good to see a more realistic look at this topic
Jan Bailey
Feb 08, 2016 Jan Bailey rated it liked it
The sobering tale of a young man changed forever by what he experienced in the war in Burma. The effects touch the lives of his wife and son as they all seek to readjust after the war.
Apr 22, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
Wish I liked it more.
Interesting topic, but as Bragg likes the sound of his own voices so much (waffling and pontificating etc) it detracts from the story and it becomes a bit tedious.
Feb 03, 2016 Louisa rated it liked it
This novel develops the common theme of the soldier's somewhat dislocated return to life at home. An easy read but not a particularly gripping one.
Nick Davies
Jan 30, 2016 Nick Davies rated it liked it
This was best described as a 'nice' book. It was beautifully written and lovingly described by an author who knows his locations and his people, but disappointingly it was all a bit 'Sunday evening TV drama' for me - it didn't really go anywhere. As nicely written and pleasant as it was, a soldier returning from the war finding things difficult, and his family finding it tough to adjust too - it just didn't feel like enough of a story for me, merely some reminiscing and some misunderstanding and ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Melvyn Bragg's books. He's such an intelligent writer. Sam returns from fighting in Burma and all seems normal. His wife is pleased to have him home. His six year old son idolises him. But tensions appear as Sam starts to want independence from Ellen's family and exerts his influence over her relationship with her son. Although they all clearly love each other they fail to communicate and their relationships suffer. Memories of the war have devastating consequences on the family. ...more
May 20, 2014 Kim rated it liked it
Quite a good read - after VJ Day, Sam Richardson returns to his hometown of Wigton in Cumbria after fighting the Japanese in Burma to find that much has changed, notably his 6-year-old son, Joe (who can barely remember him) and his wife, Ellen (proud of her new-found independence and reluctant to give it up). Sam finds it hard to fit back into civvy street and, along with their rekindled passion, there is much friction within the family. Well told tale which I believe is the first book in a tril ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Cathy rated it really liked it
Excellent book.
Dale Barlow
Jan 20, 2016 Dale Barlow rated it it was amazing
#1 in this series, J. Thomas 2015 recommendation; British author’s first in a trilogy about a soldier’s return from the “forgotten war of Burma” (1946); very well written discourse on the soldier’s ill fated attempt at reconnecting with spouse and son. The ending is a real kicker; actually, the whole story is a kicker; 1999 paperback gift from son for Christmas, 2015, 346 pgs.; 5 out of 5 stars; finished Jan. 01, 2016/#2
Jul 22, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Excellent low key book about life in England after World War Two. A straight forward story with sympathy for it's characters. I like this because it's true to life, without unnecessary embellishments. Real life is interesting enough without going all Hollywood on it.
There is time given to children, adults, and people outside the main characters.
May 11, 2009 Buff rated it it was amazing
This was a deeply moving story of a soldier returning to his small village after many years in the British army. Told with beautifully and carefully crafted words, Sam and Ellen's poignant story is unforgettable. I loved it! I could feel the pain of every one of the characters. An outstanding novel!
Jan 01, 2013 Allan rated it it was amazing
For an old timer, this book reintroduces me to folk, families, townships and a way of life I remember well. This author certainly knows the world he is writing about and there’s such an atmosphere of truth in the story. This for me is an excellent book written with style and grace.
Jan 05, 2016 Nicola rated it really liked it
Very evocative of the time. Well described characters and emotions. A interesting take on the impact of war. Worthy of a second read, which this was.
Jan 25, 2014 Margaret rated it did not like it
I only got half way through this book before giving up out of boredom and frustration. Shallow characters with whom I could not identify or sympathise, rambling repetitive plot that seemed to be going nowhere... a real disappointment.
Feb 06, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Evocative of so much that was important and is now either gone or fading fast - close Northern families; community; a respect for work and achievement. Bragg doesn't match the quality of this book in the rest of the series but they are all excellent reads.
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Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg, FRSL, FRTS (born 6 October 1939) is an English author, broadcaster and media personality who, aside from his many literary endeavours, is perhaps most recognised for his work on The South Bank Show.

Bragg is a prolific novelist and writer of non-fiction, and has written a number of television and film screenplays. Some of his early television work was in collaboration wit
More about Melvyn Bragg...

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