When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

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.

My Review

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.

My Top Ten Books of 2019

The time has come again to face an impossible task of narrowing the 117 books I have read into a top ten list. As always it was difficult to do but I have managed and I will list them in no particular order. Apart from my favourite book of the year which I will reveal at the end. You can see my review for each book by clicking on the title.

Expectation by Anna Hope.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman.

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Red Snow by Will Dean

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron

On My Life by Angela Clarke

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman

My Book of 2019

Turbulent Wake by Paul. E Hardisty

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had. 

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Photographer Of The Lost was a book that I couldn’t wait to read. I knew it would upset me, books like this always do, but I was upset for different reasons than I expected. The story about those who want to find missing service men is one I knew would affect me, families desperate for answers about husbands and sons who they knew deep down had lost their lives and wanted to see their resting place. For proof and some form of closure.

It is something, to my shame, that I had never given much though too. It is easier to think that it concerned just a handful of people, but the author shows how many thousands of families never had their answers. The other thing I never really thought about was the rebuilding of the communities after the war. You often see images of the trenches on the news, followed by images of the pristine cemeteries. I have never seen anything about the time when houses and churches were being rebuilt, the cemeteries being prepared. All with respect, dignity and pride by local men.

Many things will stay with me. The nightmares experienced by Harry, his siblings and friends lost. The pride of the workmen and ex service men who were trying their best. And the description of a recently abandoned home that still had a vase of fresh flowers.

Absolutely stunning, The Photographer Of The Lost is one of the best books I have read this year.