The Cellist’s Friend
by Robert J Fanshawe
AuthorHouse UK

"She almost leapt in a half-laugh, but actually it was a scream. My words—DIED, FIRING SQUAD—had tortured her further."

The horrors of World War I are vividly depicted in this searing novel of self-examination. From repellent conditions of life and death in the battlefield trenches to spirit-atrophying convalescence in military hospitals, author Fanshawe depicts the wreckage that war wreaks on humanity by focusing on a single soldier.

Ben is a young man grievously wounded. He suffers horribly from the physical damage done to his body, but he experiences even more pain psychologically. Ben’s personal assessment of his own actions, or the lack thereof, lead him to the conclusion that his cowardice is significantly responsible for the death of his fellow soldier and friend. The fact that his friend was not killed in battle—but rather was executed for supposedly betraying his comrades—makes Ben’s feelings of guilt even acuter. As Ben begins the long road of recovery from his physical injury, he also grapples with how he should atone for his self-determined recreancy. Immersing himself in poetry and a letter-writing campaign with the widow of a soldier who saved Ben’s life, he begins to slowly see the possibility of a future beyond his physical and mental anguish. But is it real, or only illusory?

In this novel—the first in a trilogy of novels set in and after the First World War—Fanshawe proves himself as accomplished a storyteller as he is a writer. His narrative reveals important information bit by bit. He employs both hard-hitting and languid prose. The dialogue rings true. The pace is controlled. And, importantly, while this is a tale of tragedy, it is also one of hope.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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