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The Blue Bench

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4.36  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Margate 1920

The Great War is over but Britain is still to find peace and its spirit is not yet mended.

Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past.

E
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Paperback, 616 pages
Published June 20th 2018 by Bluescale Publishing
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4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  67 ratings  ·  46 reviews


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Magdalena
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Melancholy and pain. That's what The Blue Bench left me feeling. Horrors of war, the devastation and long lasting effects it had on those who fought and those left at home. It's not an easy book to read. But it's a book that draws you in and holds your attention. Beautiful.
The Blue Bench is told in a gentle and compelling way. Beautifully written, told from multiple points of view, it's a book to be savoured.
Paul Marriner wrote a story that's engaging and emotive and if you're a historical ficti
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Trish at Between My Lines
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, blog-tour
The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner is no lighthearted, fun read. What it is instead is a beautifully written book depicting the long-lasting horrors of war. Long after the last shot is fired, the damage blasts on and on through the lives of the soldiers and their families.

This book radiates warmth and friendship and portrays how friends can be a light at the end of the darkest tunnel. While the post war setting is drowning in sorrow and pain, there is also a hopeful feel because of the loyalty of t
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Cassandra MADEUP BookBlog
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a very well written tale from the perspectives of people who survived the World Wars, it considers their lives, the effects and the possible ramifications of the war, and pushes us to consider how war effects those left behind after.

This is a masterfully written story which interweaves fact and fiction. I found myself eager to not only discover what would befall the individuals, but also to learn more about the society of the time.

There are several Characters within the story, and alth
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Jana Tenbrook (Reviews from the Stacks)
I really wanted to like this book. It's deep-hitting historical fiction with a philosophical bent, so how could I not? There certainly are aspects of The Blue Bench that I enjoyed, and others that I appreciated even though I did not enjoy actually reading them, but as a whole...the negatives outweighed the positives for me.

Let's start with the good: The Blue Bench takes a long, hard look at the time between WWI and WWII. I've read an abundance of WWII fiction, but very little WWI fiction and eve
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Peter Thomson
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: treasures
This is a book to savour. A real book in the sense it deserves considered reading- armchair and no distractions. I was drawn in and held captive after the first few pages. I read the Kindle edition and the first impression I gained was that the book was unfinished, not quite ready for publication and in need of a final close edit.
That said, the quality of the writing is mesmeric. His mastery of the period with its social foibles, and manners is superb. This is a complicated, but not a complex bo
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Katharine Johnson
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this portrait of English life in the aftermath of WWI. Although it's a long book it's divided into short chapters which makes it easy to read. I love this period and found myself getting drawn into the lives of Edward, William, Evelyn and Catherine as they tried to make the adjustment from their wartime experiences to their new lives in 1920 and would highly recommend it to other readers of inter-war fiction
Pnina Savery
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read that focuses on the lives of a few young adults in post World War Two England. The horrors and long lasting effects of the war are keenly felt in this novel, which does not hide the pain and damage that still existed two years after peace was declared. Whilst the novel seems at first glance to be about a summer holiday in a seaside town and a war veteran building his music career, there is so much more going on under the surface. From poverty, physical war wounds, psychologica ...more
Gail Atkins
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
At first I found this book really hard to get into and it seemed so long.
Yet as I progressed through the pages, my attention was being held.
The book is steeped with history: pioneer surgery after the first world war, those hidden heroes who helped so many.
Whilst reading this book I eagerly searched the internet for information on the characters named throughout the book.
The barriers to love, moving on and life in Kent spilled through the pages. Personal family ties to Sidcup intrigued me more.
I'
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K.S. Lewis
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully told historical fiction story with characters that jump off the pages. Beautifully written.
Sandra Leivesley
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, tbc
Historical fiction is a genre I don’t read very often, but I had heard good things about this book so decided to give it a try and I am so pleased that I did. If I could award more than 5 stars then I would!

The book is set in 1920, just a couple of years after WW1 and is the story of William and Edward, two ex soldiers, and two young ladies, Catherine and Evelyn, and is mostly set in Margate. It is written in the third person, mainly from the viewpoint of either Evelyn or Edward.

This is a long
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Priya
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
This was one of those books that got better as I read more of it.
It is one of those stories that tells the events that occur day to day in the lives of a group of people and how they are affected by it.
The setting is just after the great war. Edward and William were injured in the war, and are in Margate to get back to some semblance of regular life.
Having to wear a tin mask after losing half his face, Edward is in constant pain and only medication and his piano music and dreams of going back to
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Lel Budge
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anne-cater
This is told from several points of view, Edward, badly wounded in battle, Evelyn, a wonderfully empathetic soul, Catherine, full of life and a passion for fun and just being alive, and William, a bit of a loveable rogue.

It tells of the horrors of war, its effect on those fighting, those left at home and the constant fear and worry. It also tells of the emotional and physical struggles faced by everyone, once the war is over and those that survived return home back to a ‘normal’ life.

This is not
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Jane Willis
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my top reads of the year. I've just finished it and handed my copy straight to my ex soldier husband. It's such a gentle, readable book yet it deals with such harsh, gritty, difficult subjects. Even though my own husband fought in a war, I don’t think I'd realised until I read this the depth of the effects on survivors. Or understood the full significance of the grave of the Unknown Warrior. I think I'll be ready with the tissues when my husband reads it. And it took me a very long time t ...more
Hayley
The Blue Bench is a novel following four characters in the aftermath of the first world war. Edward and William have returned from the front but they are forever changed by what they have been through. Catherine and Evelyn are two young women keen to get on with their lives. The book is about their journeys as they each try to look to the future. The novel is predominantly told from the perspectives of Edward and Evelyn but all four of these characters feature all the way through.

The Blue Bench
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Lori
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a kindle copy from the goodreads giveaways. The Blue Bench takes place in 1920 in England. right after world war one. focuses on two soldiers, Edward who was severely injured and wears a tin mask on half of his face. he is in constant pain. William another soldier, and two women they meet Evelyn, and Catherine. It is about aftermath of the war and what the two soldiers are going through. Edward is a talented pianist and is trying to get a career going. the other characters have their ...more
Terri
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book following the lives of four friends in the period after the First World War. The story reflects the emotional torment of those who served, survived and saw many die and who are trying to lead as normal a life as possible. There is much reference to the grave of the unknown soldier and the importance of the symbol for the families of those lost or broken is clearly depicted.

The lives of characters in the book have become important to me over the last few days. The endin
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Lindsay
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
So let me start by saying this is not my normal type of audio book but honestly I’m so glad I gave this a listen. The book is heartbreakingly honest and painful at times and the author writes in a way that feels so honest to the life and feelings of the country when the war was finally over. It felt so real to listen to and my heart was broken by the end of the book if not a little bit hopeful.
Neil Rendall
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very enjoyable read. The author has clearly done a lot of homework so that his characters are set, convincingly, in their time with of the period references woven in, many of which are so familiar but we might not have recognised their presence as of this period. The people draw us in to their stories and through them we get to explore what life might have been like after the First World War; hope for many, despair for many; those who have and have not; societies proprieties and its distortion ...more
Chris Tunnicliffe
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful story about two young men returned from World War 1, changed by all they have seen and the changes caused by injury. This book is full of real events and people woven into a story about fictional people , their relationships, heart breaks and the changes happening in 1920.
I learnt so much more about these times as well as enjoying meeting these charecters. A well written enjoyable book.

Eva
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Being from the US and not really knowing WWI history as much as I should, I truly enjoyed this book. It was well written and wonderful. The characters are developed so well and I felt like they were telling me their story privately. Every character taught me something about themselves and how they interplay. I learned about how devastating WWI was to the UK and its citizens. I learned how they lived in the 1920's and how society behaved. I highly recommend this read to everyone.
Maggie Kiely
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This truly is a book to relish. From the start I just wanted to spend time with it and leave the world to do ‘its thing’.
I listened to this as an audiobook with a superb narrative by Colleen MacMahon.
The writing is top drawer The author has such a knowledge of the time period warts and all. I felt I was there with all the wonderful well rounded characters.
It was so tragic in parts…the sadness and changed lives of heroes who returned and the way society rejected them all over again calling the
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Patrice Gotting
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was kindly sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review..

When I went into this book I really didn’t know what to expect, historical fiction isn’t a genre I pick up very often.

This was so well written, the story was beautiful, serious but not too heavy.

I loved all the characters and the way they were all introduced slowly, so you got to know the characters before more were brought in.

Evelyn was by far my favourite, she was so kind and caring, but without being overbearing.

There
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Karen Cole
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Bench is set after the end of the First World War but the wounds - both physical and mental - left on the men who served and the nation as a whole are far from healed. Much of the WW1 fiction I've read features the visceral brutality of the conflict; here we are reminded that the anguish didn't end on Armistice Day but lingered for years afterwards.
The book opens in 1940 as a young man, Patrick meets 'his ladies', Evelyn and Catherine in London. It becomes apparent that this has been an
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Julie
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first glance this could be a novel of the First World War, and in a way it is, though it is mainly set in 1920. Rather than the anger or despair of the actual battlefields, or even harrowing details of soldiers’ experiences, this is a book of the aftermath, of those who are trying to capture or recapture their lives. Featuring two young men who have shared fighting life, and have been left with different dreams and problems, and two young women who seem to be heading for unmarried lives, this ...more
Steph Warren
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

The Blue Bench is one of those emotionally immersive reads that leave you lost when you emerge, blinking, back into the so-called ‘real world’.

Nothing felt more real to me than Edward and William, Catherine and Evelyn, Georgette, Patrick, and the irrepressible Beatrice. Paul Marriner plunges the reader into the everyday travails of these ordinary people: strong, heroic, cowardly, a
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Laura Doherty
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full review: http://lauramorningstar.com/book-revi...

2018 is the centenary of the end of the First World War and so it is poignant that The Blue Bench features on the aftermath of that war. It is often easy to forget the long lasting legacy that the violence and atrocities committed and experienced have upon those affected. The Blue Bench captures this exquisitely and with a sensitivity that shows the author has a real empathy for what he is writing about.

The Blue Bench is set in 1920 two short
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Jo Barton
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The fragments of lives altered by circumstance haunted those who returned from The Great War and for those who were irreparably damaged in both mind and body their lives would be changed forever. The task of getting back to some semblance of normality was attempted, but sometimes the cracks, quite simply, ran too deep, and the memory of those who would never return was often a merciless burden which was carried, by some, for the rest of their lives.

In The Blue Bench, Edward and William have retu
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Tracey Scott-Townsend
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it

In 1920, William and Edward arrive in Margate, Edward to play piano for the summer season at the Winter Gardens. William is his manager. Both men carry the emotional scars of their time on the battlefields of the First World War and Edward has spent many months being put back together physically, following his appalling injuries. He wears a tin mask over the missing part of his face and he and William frequently joke about painting the benches in the seaside town blue.

Evelyn has also recently ar
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Fiona Moreira
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Edward was known as the Lucky Lieutenant and William was his right hand man. But after suffering horrific physical injuries, Edward must make contact with the Kayst family, the family of one of his men who didn’t come home from the front and Edward and William find themselves in Margate in 1920. William finds Edward , a classically trainer pianist a job playing at The Winter Gardens to a local crowd. It is here that they meet Catherine, a local girl helping her aunt run a guest house, and Evelyn ...more
Caro Soles
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it

Paul Marriner does a great job of pulling the reader into the pitch perfect world of post-war 1920 Britain. The long gruelling war was over but the country was drained, so many not coming back and those that did, not the same. The Lucky Lieutenant is one is of these broken men, whose study of music was broken off to enlist and lead many to their deaths in the mud of the trenches in France. The author did well bringing his characters to life, even the minor ones. The story is told in a gentle nar
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