Read The Soldier's Return by Melvyn Bragg Online


When Sam Richardson returns in 1946 from the "Forgotten War" in Burma to his hometown in northern England, he finds little changed. The war has changed him, however, broadening his horizons but also leaving him deeply scarred with traumatic, often hellish, memories. In addition, his six-year-old son Joe barely remembers him, and his wife has gained a new sense of independeWhen Sam Richardson returns in 1946 from the "Forgotten War" in Burma to his hometown in northern England, he finds little changed. The war has changed him, however, broadening his horizons but also leaving him deeply scarred with traumatic, often hellish, memories. In addition, his six-year-old son Joe barely remembers him, and his wife has gained a new sense of independence from her wartime job. As all three strive to adjust, the bonds of love and loyalty are stretched to the breaking point in this taut and profoundly moving novel that captures what millions of families experienced in the aftermath of World War II....

Title : The Soldier's Return
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781559706858
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 346 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Soldier's Return Reviews

  • Naomi Sarah
    2019-05-20 04:11

    Okay, so I just realised that this is the first book in a trilogy. COME ON. :-P I was telling myself not to give up reading this book, just because I was so yearning for a happy-family-all-in-harmony-with-fuzzies-ending. And then I didn't even GET that. *sulks like a 3-year-old* What I liked: 1. WW2 books = always have some elements I enjoy.2. Joe was RIDICULOUSLY cute, and my heart went out to him.3. The cover is so so pretty, and the book blurb is so fascinating. (Gah, I KNEW the inside couldn't be as good as the outside. :-P)4. I actually liked the change of narrator from chapter to chapter. Many people have said that they found it confusing, but I thought it was cool. I liked that.5. Loved the WW2-is-finished-hug. Why this was a disappointment: 1. I hate it when the majority of the book is about a married couple quarreling and disagreeing. I know that it is (sadly) a big part of this world, but I didn't enjoy reading it.2. I didn't feel very attached to any of the secondary characters.3. The ENDING. BLEH. #angryme4. There were some napping-times. :-P5. It was nice in the beginning, but then soon it became so boring and repetitive... so two stars it is.

  • Anthony Peter
    2019-05-27 03:00

    I struggled a bit with this, but think it's rather better than my fractured enjoyment of it suggested.I remember reading 'Lark Rise to Candleford' when I was at school (compulsory reading, small book, tiny print, story by which I was unriveted), and 'The Soldier's Return' affected me in something of the same way. I hazard that it's because they are both books that lie somewhere between the novel and a eulogy to a place. In respect of the latter, I thought 'The Soldier's Return' worked well, and the deep affection felt by Ellen and the the writer for Wigton and Cumberland and a sense of community was strikingly and convincingly described in prose that was simple and clear - unaffected, suiting the people (apart from Mr Kneale, perhaps, who struck me as a rather sinister, rather insensitive, rather unsettling presence) and the place they lived.I liked the characterisation, though I found that towards the end Bragg spent more time than I was interested in examining the inner thoughts of Ellen and Sam. Joe's role in the narrative I was never easy with, though: whose point of view is being considered - Ellen's, Sam's Joe's? This shifting perspective didn't work for me.Structurally, the novel struck me as a bit picaresque in order to accommodate not just the sequence of events in the lives of the Richardsons', but also the events in the post-war Wigton calendar. In this respect, I felt Bragg perhaps was slaved by it, and was not able ever to decide what his focus was. Did he have too many foci, perhaps? Perhaps the unsettling narrative is a reflection of the unsettled circumstances of post-war Britain?Anyway, I certainly wouldn't wish to put anyone off reading a novel that deals with war, relationships, a small community making the best of itself, readjustment. For some reason, I and it didn't quite hit it off - that's all.

  • Suzy
    2019-06-02 04:17

    A really enjoyable, moving and thought-provoking look at everyday life for one family when the husband (Sam) returns from serving in World War Two. The story shows how lives change and expectations are unfulfilled for all the family and their friends /neighbours. Ellen and Joe (Sam's wife and son) had got into a routine of living which is turned upside down with Sam's return. Ellen waited so long for him to return safely, but then reality doesn't match her expectations as Sam seems to have changed. He is battling his own inner daemons from the war, which are revealed later with one 'flashback' chapter. The novel is told mostly in chronological order which gave a beautiful simplicity to the tale, although this style can be seen nowadays as old fashioned. It also jumps around into the minds of several characters but this gives the reader an overview of all the main characters. It's a very emotional drama and at times I found myself empathising with Ellen, but later switching to empathise with Sam. I loved it all except the last page! I felt that the author should have put the final idea into the reader's mind but left the finale open ended.

  • Janet
    2019-06-08 03:07

    I wasn’t sure what to expect of Melvyn Bragg. Although I liked the sound of the book, and went as far as to read the first few pages before I went ahead and nominated it to the rest of the group, I was concerned that it might be a bit heavy going, but on the contrary, it was a very easy read. In fact, in some places it reminded me of the Catherine Cookson books that I couldn’t get enough of in my teenage years!Don’t get me wrong - I did enjoy it, but I somehow expected a bit more substance to it.I was staggered that it won the ‘WHS Literary Award 2000’. I would have thought there were other, more substantial books, which might have taken that award, but maybe Mr Bragg’s name helped!All in all, and enjoyable read, but not anything special.

  • Thetravellingreader
    2019-06-12 01:13

    '...I’m a push-over for reading about The Ones Who Return: the soldiers who survived through the hell of war and made it back alive. Be it World War I, II, or any other major conflict, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s my way of rooting for the underdog, or cheering on those who succeeded in spite of all the odds. That’s probably why I wanted to read The Soldier’s Return; the title gives it away, I think...'Read the rest of my review at: visit the place the book was set:

  • Wanda
    2019-06-02 04:52

    26 DEC 2015 - notice of this book on sale came through via email. I see Geevee rated this a 4. I am certain I will enjoy reading this one, too.

  • Janine
    2019-06-18 00:49

    Narrated by the author, Melvyn Bragg.This *could* have been quite a nice little story but Mr Bragg simply does not know how to narrate a tale!Monotonous, no change between characters’ voices, he actually sounded rather bored having to read his story to us. I persevered and the ending was nice but it was a slog and a very long three hours which I had to break into chunks. I shan’t be holding onto this audiobook.

  • Paul Green
    2019-06-02 00:05

    I enjoyed this book. It's set in a time following the Second World War when times were changing and women were often not equal partners in marriage. The depiction of family life is absorbing and engaging. The relationships between characters are portrayed very well. Coming to terms with life together after a long separation caused by war must have happened a lot.

  • Patricia
    2019-06-08 02:00

    This brought back childhood memories of my parents tales recounting my father's return from the war in Europe (not Burma), and the need to now become a family and for him to support a wife and four children. (There was only one when he first left with the BEF for France) - however I found the book rather uneven, and was disappointed in the denouement. In fact I found the ending hard to believe.

  • Michael Turriani
    2019-06-12 21:05

    Thought the book was a bit slow but now realise it is a three part series ! Some moving parts , for someone who has been in the military. Well written but will not one I will move on to second part. Finished it but was glad to reach the end.

  • Vanessa
    2019-06-05 00:14

    I'd forgotten just how good Melvyn Bragg is at drawing you into the story. Well worth the read. Characters are deep enough, details are balanced and you can trust that the history is correct, after all it's Melvyn!

  • Nicola Brown
    2019-05-20 02:14

    An interesting and enjoyable read. The period detail - housing conditions, people's everyday lives - was fascinating. Not much of a story, though.

  • Diane Adam
    2019-05-28 05:11

    The problem with this novel was that it didn't really go anywhere. It's the story of Sam, who fought in Burma during WWII and comes home to Wigton in Cumbria, to his wife and son after nearly four years away. Of course, he expects everything to be wonderful and of course it isn't. He has experienced things, both good and bad, which have changed him; and his home town is both annoyingly the same and annoyingly different. What we get from reading it, is a snapshot of the months after Sam's return. And that's it.

  • Ron
    2019-05-20 04:01

    It's many years since I read a Melvyn Bragg book and, since i have lived in Cumbria for decades now, I felt I should read more. I saw the excellent documentary on his life on TV recently and chose this book as the best one to take up now.A soldier returns to his small Cumbrian town from Burma at the end of World War 2 to his wife and son. With the horrors of what he had witnessed still firmly in his mind, and yet unsettled from seeing so much more of the world than Wigton allowed, Sam finds domestic life difficult. Ellen, his wife, is overjoyed at his return and hopes for domestic bliss, a house of her own and a settled life in the town she is content to call home, but Sam soon realises he wants more.The minor characters are, to me, one of the joys of this book: auntie Grace the domineering matriarch, Mr Kneale the insensitive retired schoolteacher and Sadie, Ellen's friend and neighbour, among others. Bragg paints a detailed picture of what it was like in 1946 Cumbria, and so he should as this is based on his own life - he was Joe, the young son of Sam and Ellen. In fact, my quibble with the book is that the author's memories and descriptions of the area sometimes get in the way of the story, as if he was too determined to make the setting realistic and convincing and at times it was at the expense of suspense.It is quite an easy read and I like the way we are manipulated to identify at times with Sam and at others with Ellen as their relationship goes through difficulties and strains. We certainly see both sides and understand how each felt in their clashing ambitions for the family.

  • Kris McCracken
    2019-06-08 04:09

    The story for the most part concerns that of a man returning to his wife and son after serving in Burma during WWII. No doubt like many of his generation, the central character feels suffocated by life in small town Wigton (in Cumbria, just out of Carlisle). For mine, Bragg effectively captures the inner turmoil and unrest that must have troubled men like Sam Richardson. Those who didn't serve have a tendency to ask too many painful questions (and would not doubt not really want to hear the answers), and the vivid memories rob Sam of sleep. The shift back to the daily grind of work and home is mundane and demeaning, and the difficulties of rebuilding life with his wife and young son (who he barely knows), is fraught with unease, misapprehension, and an inevitable (but silent) frustration. Without giving too much away, the book is a thoughtful, sensitive, and sympathetic to the ache and difficulties of relationships under repair. In the creation of the central character, Bragg writes with tremendous delicacy yet significant force about the desire and futile effort to return to a past that time and the war has ensured can never happen. Surprisingly unsentimental (almost gloomy in parts), it is however a magnificent mediation on the key themes of love, responsibility, obligation, pain and healing. The book offers a tremendous insight to those of us who had grandparents who must have experienced similar trials and experiences, and a great work of fiction. Recommended most highly.

  • Jan
    2019-06-07 01:09

    This was the selected text for my reading group and we all enjoyed it. None of us, despite being Cumbrians, had read Melvyn Bragg before. It is et in Wigtown after WW2 - a local boy, Sam, turned soldier returning from the campaign in Burma with all its attendant horrors. Sam has been traumatised by what he has witnessed - the torture, the violence, the loss of his best friend and it has changed him. He is harder, haunted and disappointed in his wife Ellen. She shouldn't be for she has brought up their son, struggled financially and taken on three part time jobs and survived as he has done though in a different and apparently safer world. Her world seems restricted and rigid to him now and her unwillingness to change irritates and dissatisfies him yet at the same time he resents her working and wants to feel master in his own home though part of him accepts that things have indeed changed. Confusion and ambivalence about their roles as husband and wife and parents which are inevitably different because of their long years apart cause a predictable conflict.Despite the predicability of the plot the story is beautifully written and the sense of place is excellent which is probably due to its being the authors home town.this is the beginning of a trilogy yet the cliff hanger ending had me expecting en entirely different denouement.

  • Hilary Shearing
    2019-05-19 00:17

    World War 2 has been the subject of many films, articles, shows, musicals and books. The Soldier's Return isn't just another piece of writing to be added to that expanding list. Melvyn Bragg undertakes an epic canvas, to reveal the fall-out of a soldier's return home, after a six year absence, where he -Sam- has been fighting in Burma. Things look the same, the houses, the landscape, the smells, the sounds - as before he went away. But Sam quickly discovers how much has changed, without as well as within society, his family and himself. Sam isn't alone. Those men or neighbours who went with him to that same war, in the same unit and survived to come back, have to confront many demons. Dreadful images and situations encountered, which leave them mentally scarred, unable to talk about, which impact heavily on everything they do. Particularly the desire to start afresh. The Soldier's Return is beautifully written. Every emotion can be found. It has a real authenticity of time and place. It is a powerful read, in an understated way which portrays superbly, a world on the verge of a new era. A rarerity.

  • Kate Millin
    2019-06-05 00:50

    By the time corporal Sam Richardson returns from Burma to his Cumbrian hometown of Wigton, the bunting's long gone, and Sam, like everybody else, wants to get back to normal. But his plans to return to family life with Ellen and six- year-old son Joe don't run smooth. The war has taken away his old job, while Ellen holds down two; Joe's been raised with other men as father-figures; and Sam struggles to repress what he's witnessed out east. This novel explores the most unsettling of experiences: returning to a normality that's no longer normal. In Sam, with his undemonstrative reserve and irrational suspicions, he creates a man who cannot heal the mental scars of active service. This is a very bittersweet book, it is very thought provoking showing how a person's reality and grip on 'real life' is strongly affected by what you have experienced. It also shows how hard it is when the reality experienced by two partners is so different when they are trying to learn to live together again.

  • Anne
    2019-05-24 21:02

    About a soldier's return after the Burmese war (the one that went on for a year after the European war ended and saw some of the worst atrocities). He returns to a small village in Cumbria to find it the same but not the same. The women have had jobs and don't want to go back to being housewives. His small village assumes he will fit back into his proper station in life, but, despite having little education, he has learned to be a leader and to want to know more during the war. The book is well written with characters who struggle with big changes and how to articulate them to each other. A good reminder to all of us how we will never understand what people have gone through in wars and a good description of people trying to cope with change in their lives. Cleanly written, and makes you think.

  • Carol Rizzardi
    2019-06-14 04:02

    I appreciated the author's facility in creating totally believable characters and in capturing the different responses of each to the situations presented. No one talked about PTSS in 1946, yet veterans certainly suffered from it. The strong desire to return to normalcy after war is in direct conflict witht he reality that nothing is every "normal" again.While I found myself frustrated with the inability of the characters to really communicate, I also realized that this rather than the inverse is more the norm. As a North American, I found some of the British vocabulary unfamiliar, but not enough so to interfere with enjoying the book.A worthwhile read. And even though I didn't really like the ending, it fit with the overall theme of the book. (No spoiler alert needed, as this is purposely ambiguous.)

  • Tim Corke
    2019-05-30 22:12

    Beautiful, harrowing, warm, sad, honest, love; just some of the words you could use to describe this common tale from the end of WW2 when the men who left English shores with pride to fight for King and country returned with their souls tormented. When Sam left Ellen to fight in Burma, the horrors that he endured changed their relationship upon his return. Seeing his living pals stricken with mental health issues or reliving the brutal deaths of those e served with, Sam wanted more than the local town, the run down houses, the dead end job. Or did he??This book will be used as a reflective guide on human emotion of the period and certainly deserves its plaudits. I'd recommend to anyone who wants to find out more about this difficult and turbulent time faced by returning WW2 servicemen.

  • Robert Ditterich
    2019-05-24 23:18

    Bragg delivers everything I want from historical fiction. He reaches into my undisclosed spaces in the same way that Sebastian Faulks has done, although in a more grounded and less literary way (which is not meant to speak ill of either). By grounded I mean gritty, pithy and coloured by experience. Both explore the 'every person'- the people that could be 'us', but in situations familiar but not experienced first hand.I won't attempt to precis the plot. The context is the return to Northern England of a soldier from the war against Japan in Burma. It explores the transposition of a soul from the world of focussed achievement to a place of lavish stagnation, but a situation not without beauty and safety.I will hunt out some more of his work!

  • Courtney
    2019-06-02 01:57

    I thought this was a really good book. It is about a family-Sam-a soldier who returns home after war, Ellen-his wife, and Joe-his young son. It is all about how they readjust to having Sam back home after the war and how life has changed and how Sam has changed. This was set in 1946 in England-way before the days of PTSD were diagnosed in soldiers returning from war. Sam is very much a classic PTSD and late in the book you find out why that is. There were some parts like the carnival which I could picture being there. It reminded me of the carnival on the 4th of July here or the Minnesota State Fair. Throughout the book, you'll find yourself empathizing with every character, and maybe getting angry at a few. This is a book of many emotions.

  • Nick Davies
    2019-06-09 05:08

    This was best described as a 'nice' book. It was beautifully written and lovingly described by an author who knows his locations and his people, but disappointingly it was all a bit 'Sunday evening TV drama' for me - it didn't really go anywhere. As nicely written and pleasant as it was, a soldier returning from the war finding things difficult, and his family finding it tough to adjust too - it just didn't feel like enough of a story for me, merely some reminiscing and some misunderstanding and some sentimentality.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-26 03:10

    I really enjoy Melvyn Bragg's books. He's such an intelligent writer. Sam returns from fighting in Burma and all seems normal. His wife is pleased to have him home. His six year old son idolises him. But tensions appear as Sam starts to want independence from Ellen's family and exerts his influence over her relationship with her son. Although they all clearly love each other they fail to communicate and their relationships suffer. Memories of the war have devastating consequences on the family. A very poignant book.

  • Kim
    2019-05-27 03:13

    Quite a good read - after VJ Day, Sam Richardson returns to his hometown of Wigton in Cumbria after fighting the Japanese in Burma to find that much has changed, notably his 6-year-old son, Joe (who can barely remember him) and his wife, Ellen (proud of her new-found independence and reluctant to give it up). Sam finds it hard to fit back into civvy street and, along with their rekindled passion, there is much friction within the family. Well told tale which I believe is the first book in a trilogy. 7/10.

  • Dale
    2019-06-06 22:51

    #1 in this series, J. Thomas 2015 recommendation; British author’s first in a trilogy about a soldier’s return from the “forgotten war of Burma” (1946); very well written discourse on the soldier’s ill fated attempt at reconnecting with spouse and son. The ending is a real kicker; actually, the whole story is a kicker; 1999 paperback gift from son for Christmas, 2015, 346 pgs.; 5 out of 5 stars; finished Jan. 01, 2016/#2

  • Shiva Patel
    2019-05-28 01:56

    In 1946, Sam Richardson returns from Burma to Wigton in Cumbria. Memories of his wife Ellen and son Joe have kept his spirits up whilst away from home.In his absence, Ellen has taken on more work and has become more independent. Sam returns to the town unchanged but he has grown as a man and wants more of life.This moving story is a truthful account of a life of a soldier and his struggles with family to find a balance in life.

  • ashu alec
    2019-05-19 21:08

    What, when one of your biggest wait gets over unexpectedly? What when the person you love the most, makes it safe from one of the deadliest battles? And what when you do not feel jubilant and ecstatic as the natural reaction to these events...A powerful narration that deals with one of the most undiscussed and uncared subjects-PTSD. Specially for veterans who are exposed to man's brutality at its worst.

  • Jaqui Lane
    2019-06-06 05:05

    Read this book over a day-and-a-half. I come to Melvyn Bragg only recently and read A Son of War first...not that it mattered. The Soldier's Return is a beautifully restrained insight on what it must be like for any soldier to return home. Nothing is the same but the ache for it to be what was fought for is strong. Worth reading given we still live with soldier's returning from war....will anyone ever learn?