Friday, 26 September 2014

In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard

Following her husband's recent death, Leonora Galloway, sets out on a trip to the Thiepval Memorial to the dead of the Battle of the Somme with her daughter Penelope. There they find the commemoration to Leonora's fathers death recorded as 30th April 1916. However, Leonara was not born until the 14th March 1917.

Penelope assumes that this is a simple story of a wartime illegitimacy but as Leonora begins to tell her the story of her
birth and her sundered connection to her wealthy and aristocratic family there are huge surprises ahead that Penelope could never have guessed at.

I was gripped from the tantalizing opening line from the prologue of this book:

"This is the day and this the place where a dream turns a corner and a secret is told."

This line sets the tone for the whole book. It is a novel full of intrigue, mystery and tragedy told in gently captivating prose. The book is broken down into three parts with an additional prologue and epilogue. Each part is narrated from a different character perspective and moves seamlessly across time and place.

The prose is simply beautiful and it was a joy to read. Mr. Goddard's style of writing perfectly captures a time almost forgotten and he is able to portray the tragedy of war within a gentle poetic prose. I regard this as hugely skillful and a great achievement on the author's part.

In fact, it is the choice of words which enables the reader to form judgments of each of the characters as they slowly develop and unravel as the book progresses. The characters are multi layered and nobody is quite as they seem and therefore, makes guessing the plot outcome very difficult. Not until the final page does the story wrap up and everything become clear to the reader. Few novels have kept me guessing as effectively as this one.

Mr. Goddard has established himself to me as a very intelligent and skilled writer through this book. It was perfectly paced with enough plot twists and turns throughout and I loved it. I am thrilled that the author has several other titles to his name and I am looking forward to reading these. I highly encourage you to read this book and am very grateful to my friend for recommending and loaning it to me.

ISBN:   978 0552162968

Publisher: Corgi

Price (based on today's price at £5.59

Total saving so far: £364.56

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