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On Leave: A Novel
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On Leave: A Novel

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A long-lost French novel in which three soldiers return home from an unpopular, unspeakable war

When On Leave was published in Paris in 1957, as France’s engagement in Algeria became ever more bloody, it told people things they did not want to hear.It vividly described what it was like for soldiers to return home from an unpopular war in a faraway place. The book received a
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Faber & Faber (first published 1957)
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Sep 06, 2014 Josh rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I tried to enjoy this. I really, really did.

This book describes a week in the life of 3 soldiers, while on leave (creative enough title, eh!). The 3 men are drafted into an army (Algerian War era 1954-1962)that they have no ambition to be a part of and shares their actions and thoughts during the aforementioned timeframe.

The inner sleeve describes this as delving deep within the psychology of the mind of a soldier that has seen the atrocities of war; the inner turmoil that changes a man/woman f
Written in 1956, this novel about three French conscripts on leave from the "police action" in Algeria, sank without much of a trace following its original publication in 1957. Its appearance in the early years of what was to be an extremely bloody and costly war for control of Algeria was an unwelcome poke in the eye of French citizens, who only shortly after being routed from Vietnam, probably weren't too keen to hear voices dissenting from the fight to retain their largest and most important ...more
Jim Coughenour
No matter how well written they are, I have trouble reading the stories in The Yellow Birds and Redeployment. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are too painful, too recent; the savage ruin of human life so pointless. I'm wondering if that's how the French felt when La Permission appeared in 1957, in the midst of France's vicious war for Algeria. According to translator David Bellos, the novel "had few readers and only a handful of reviews. It was never reprinted."

Anselme's short novel takes a lon
Apparently little was written about France's war against Algeria. And even then, this did not start as a "war". This book was written in 1957, then disappeared, belief being that it was best left alone, as this was not a popular conflict & very traumatic for the young soldiers who had to fight in this battle.

Daniel Anselme has brought this story back. This story is of 3 solders who go home on leave, and the anxieties, the loneliness they experience. They never speak of the conflict they are
Jake Bechtel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin List
A sentence from the introduction sums up the book mostly: "This spare and forceful novel speaks of the moral and human isolation of soldiers obliged to fight an unpopular war, not when they are in the field, but when they are back home." I think I expected more from it after read the Sunday NY Times Book Review of it. I think "spare" is accurate. But spare doesn't necessarily preclude depth, and I looked for more depth, more reflection from the characters given their interaction with Parisians a ...more
First published in France in 1957, as the war in Algeria was escalating, On Leave attracted very little notice and few reviews. It has not been re-published since, perhaps because of a general feeling in the country that it is a subject best left uncovered, as it was both an unpopular engagement and a deeply traumatic one for the many young conscripts who fought in it. We have to thank David Bellos for this new translation and Penguin Classics for bringing the novel back into the public eye and ...more
One of the things I appreciated most about On Leave was that, and how much, it highlighted the mundane -- the business of everyday living -- as opposed to the Xs and Os of war, and I felt this way for two reasons: 1) most of life is mundane, even for soldiers, and 2) when a novelist gets into the mapping of battle and motives and causes and outcomes, we, as readers, begin either rationalizing or condemning the conflict under discussion -- and if the writer's hope is to demonstrate the horrific w ...more
Ren Jie
On Leave looks into the French Algerian War from 1954 to 1962 through a unique perspective: here, we are not in the thick of the battlefield as in the case of many other war novels; rather, we are on leave in Paris with 3 soldiers. The result is a poignant, nearly irreverent exploration of the tragedy of alienation due to war and the deep scars it leaves on the dissatisfied young men who realise that their homeland is no longer their home. On Leave is concise but deeply haunting, as it indicts s ...more

Reviewed by The Independent (14 Feb 2014)

The original French title is La permission.
Richard Mansel
Not sure what this novel is supposed to be. The main characters are all childish and annoying so it's really impossible to find them sympathetic. An anti-war novel should develop storylines and characters that stir your emotions and etch them into the hearts and minds of the readers. Sadly, Anselme fails to do so until the last page. At that point, though, it's too late.
I received this as a Goodreads Giveaway. While I found this book extremely sad and depressing it gives the American reader a very unique view of how soldiers in another country (France) were treated when they came home from an unpopular war. These young men were as our Vietnam Vets were treated. A difficult read because you want these young men to be understood. They have given up their lives for their country more so than if they had been killed. They come home completely changed while "home", ...more
Received this through FirstReads...
This short novel of three soldiers home on leave from France's war in Algeria. The book very vividly conveys the sense of disconnection felt, almost an invisibility. They can no longer relate to their families, friends, homes. Spare use of words paints a complex picture.
Gail Ofterdinger-Ledgister
It was easy for me to relate to the premise for this short novel. I am the daughter of a man who was taken from his parent's home at age 18 and shipped to the South Pacific during WWII and found his adulthood amid the shocking horrors of war. This book tells of three servicemen who return home for a week's leave and the disfunctional relationships and abhorrent treatment they are subjected to from their families and countrymen. I saw this shameful treatment of our Vietnam Vets in my youth. Apath ...more
Denis Dennehy
Simple tale. Shows sadness and powerlessness of ordinary soldiers in warfare.
Not a great read for me.
Lento, noioso. Una storia che non decolla mai e non trascina il lettore invogliandolo a leggere.
Nicholas Finch
One of the most under-appreciated war novels of all time.
Elizabeth Lee
This novel is about soldiers and the France's involvement in Algeria. Though this may not be a well-known work, I believe it to be a classic. It captures the ethos of a society at war, a message that is still relevant today and will persist for generations.

I won this book through Goodreads.
Sally Harvey
I received this book free from Goodreads. I was dissappointed in reading this novel. I thought it would be more detailed about war and how the soldiers were feeling. Just did not feel the story.
Claire Bennett
The perfect anti-war novella about a war I had no knowledge of, thistells the story of all soldiers returning home from unpopular wars, very topical for current times.
Louise marked it as to-read
May 27, 2015
James Selby
James Selby marked it as to-read
May 26, 2015
Lizzi marked it as to-read
Apr 09, 2015
Chelsea marked it as to-read
Mar 23, 2015
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