George Sherston – the “I” of the book - is a shy, sensitive, and rather lonely boy living on the Kent/Sussex border in the early years of the 20th century. His great loves are sports, horses, and hunting, and the story is told through his gentle and comic adventures at point-to-point races or village cricket matches in a privileged pre-War England. The picture he paints of the Garden of England in the age of pony carts, bicycles and very slow trains is enchanting.
Rich in historical detail and resonance, Sassoon’s semi-autobiographical novel is also a poignant coming-of-age tale; with innocence and naivety abruptly crushed by the outbreak of War. George has to face a bleakly different world when he joins up and goes to the Front, to the mud and death and din of trench-life. Bit by bit it robs him of practically everything he values in life and amidst the carnage, he loses some of his dearest friends.
"The war, we're always told, changed everything. Learning, as we begin to do here, how it changed the infinitely complex Sassoon is fascinating." (The Guardian)
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The book has been one of my favourites for years. The naivety of the young boy contrasting so vividly with what we know is ahead of him (see/hear his war memoirs)
When he called out " don't they will catch him" as a fox cub breaks cover.
His relationship with his groom/mentor is charming.
Very good at bringing out the nuances between the main characters. Allows you to see between the lines by gentle inflection
Yes, it flows effortlessly
Anyone that lives in the countryside and is interested in fox hunting (and the bygone age of pre WW1) will surely have read this. Any parent that has thinks their child has/might have the slightest interest in Hunting and the countryside should read / play this to them. It is a gem of a book. Along with Newby's "The Last Grain Race" and Gilbert's "Pattern of Islands" should be compulsory reading for any teenager.
- Tj Simpson