About The Book
They need him to remember. He wants to forget.
1918. In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.
The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.
When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?
Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Whilst I have read books about the impact of war before I have never read one that concerns those who are desperate for answers. Either from those who need to remember who they are or the loved ones who need to know what happened to their son, husband or brother. And both were equally heartbreaking.
When Adam is arrested after vandalism at Durham Cathedral he has no knowledge of his identity. All those around him know is that he was a serving soldier from the war. In a bid to help him he is transferred to a place of care in Westmorland. As a way of identifying him they go public but are unprepared for how many turn up to lay their claim on Adam. They filter it down to three and start the long and often upsetting process of trying to work out if any of them are related. I spent most of this novel trying to decide who I wanted to have the happy ending.
Adam isn’t the only one who has issues, James, his doctor also had a bad war and struggles to talk about it. Both appeared to have suffered similar experiences but cope in different ways and also have different reactions to certain environments. Whilst Adam finds solace in the local woods, it a nightmare for James.
This novel was at times extremely upsetting, especially towards the end. But it also shows a method of coping, even if it looked strange to others. It made me think about how many thousands of families had no idea what happened to their loved ones and I had no idea how I would even begin to cope if I was in the same situation.
I loved the Westmorland setting, the tranquility made a welcome change from a city based novel. I think that it was the only type of setting that a book such as this could work in with the way that Adam could feel at ease with the nature around him, totally different from what happened in the woods during the war.