Nov 20, 07
Read in November, 2007
Finishing this book is something like being dug out of a shell hole, or emerging from sleep still in the grip of one's nightmare. Faulks did a shatteringly good job of conveying the sheer incomprehensible horror of the trenches and mines. He was equally adept at blind, headlong, addictive physical passion. What kept this novel from five stars was the 1978-1979 material about Elizabeth Benson. While the snippet of her at Thiepval is moving, I get no sense of promises kept or the torch being passed from her life, pregnancy and delivery. I'm not even sure a device to connect past and present generations is necessary.
BBC did a very good radio dramatization of this in 1997 featuring Toby Stephens as Stephen Wraysford. Well worth a listen, and tellingly, the man who adapted it for radio chose to leave out a goodly part of the Elizabeth Benson storyline.