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When I Come Home Again

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Member Reviews

The story is set at the end of WWI, is richly drawn and based on true life events. A soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. He is questioned and finds he doesn't know who he is or why he was there. He's transferred to a rehab home and Dr James Haworth, a young doctor with war demons of his own is enthusiastically hopeful of helping "Adam" remember.

Adam finds he doesn't want to remember and is happy to spend his days walking the grounds and later turning the walled garden back into it's former glory. When it's decided to feature him in a newspaper article, hundreds of women turn up to claim him as their own - he's their son, brother or husband. There are three possibles who slowly get to know him although he doesn't feel a real affiliation or connection to any of them. 

It's the woman he meets when he's out walking that he has the deepest feelings for. Why can't he remember? When he finally does remember it's very bittersweet. A stunning novel which stayed with me long after I finished reading.
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It has taken me a couple of days to compose myself enough to write this review. This was such a breathtakingly powerful novel, I feel like it has left a profound impact on me. I have always been drawn to historical fiction and in particular, wartime novels covering the two World Wars. This book is set in the aftermath following the end of the First World War. I found it was a fresh viewpoint on what happened, and my reading of the book actually coincided with me watching a documentary that looked at the psychological impact on the soldiers who returned from the war.

The timeline of the book, going from 1918 into the 1920s occurred at a time when the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was created in Westminster Abbey in London, on 11th November 1920. Four unknown soldiers from different wartime battles were brought to a chapel in Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise in northern France, and one of the bodies was selected at random to be brought back to England. At the same time an unknown French soldier was taken to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to be interred there.

Many men returned from the war with what would now be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and some had such severe memory loss because of their experiences that they were unable to even remember who they were.

This story follows one of those soldiers, Adam, who was sent to a convalescent home in Westmorland, Cumbria with no recollection of who he was or where he was from. Following the interment of the Unknown Warrior, newspapers ran stories about soldiers who did not know who they were, and Adam agreed for his story to run. What followed next involved hundreds of people who were clinging to the hope that Adam may be their loved one who was missing in action. The many hopeful families arrived at the convalescent home to find out for certain whether Adam was their missing loved one. His doctor James sets out to find out who Adam is, and narrows the search down to three possible families. The families all have almost blind hope that Adam belongs to them, and even when the odds are insurmountable, still feel a connection with Adam. Adam himself has an other-worldly quality, and such empathy for the families, that I couldn’t help but wish for him to find himself and his place in the world.

There was so much tension within the individual storylines, and I spent much of my time trying to guess who Adam was. The climax of the story moved me so much, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was so invested in the story that more than a few tears were shed by me!

The location of the story had such an ethereal quality, that there were moments I questioned what was real and what was not. I felt such an affinity with this book. As much as I love historical war-related fiction, there are only a handful which have stayed with me for the longest times. When I Come Home Again is one of those books, I could not love it more, and I know it is going to stay with me. It was definitely worthy of five stars.
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When I Come Home Again is the incredible new historical novel by Caroline Scott, author of The Photgrapher of the Lost, which was one of my favourite reads of last year. I did wonder if the author would be able to write another book as wonderful as her first, but I needn’t have worried as When I Come Home Again is quite possibly even better!

Once again the focus is on the aftermath of the First World War and the devastating effect it had on both the soldiers returning home from unimaginable horrors and the people surrounding them. The story begins with the arrest of a man in uniform in Durham Cathedral. He appears to have no memory of who he is or where he came from and is taken to a rehabilitation home under the care of doctor James Haworth. James is haunted by his own wartime experiences and is determined to help the young man discover who he is. 

But ‘Adam’ doesn’t want to remember and is unwilling to relive the trauma of war, locking away his true identity deep inside himself. So an appeal is published in a newspaper along with a photograph of the young soldier, leading to an influx of people coming forward to claim him. But three women in particular are convinced that he is their missing relative, desperate to claim him as their own. Are any of the women really his next of kin? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?

Inspired by a true story, When I Come Home Again is a stunning read that drew me in from the very first page and didn’t let go until the final heart wrenching page had been turned. Beautifully written by Caroline Scott, this book is such an emotional read, filled with a poignancy that made my heart ache. The desperation of the three women hoping to have found their missing loved one is palpable, tearing my heart into a million pieces as they do everything in their power to prove that, yes, Adam is the man they are searching for.

Caroline Scott is a phenomenal author whose passion for this time period shines through with every page. Beautifully written, When I Come Home Again is a powerful and deeply emotional exploration of grief, loss and the futility of war and is a book that I know will stay with me for a long time to come.

A stunning book that I would highly recommend.
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"They will call him so many names. He had been Peter to the woman in the cathedral, but soon he will be Mark and Robert and Ellis. He will fill the spaces of the Franks and Phillips and Daniels. So many hopes and voids. They will want him to be a George and an Edward and a John... So many false hopes."

In 1918, a uniformed soldier is found defacing a tomb in Durham Cathedral with chalk. He's arrested and taken into custody. 'Adam' is the name he is given, as he doesn't know who he is, or where he came from. Adam is given over to the care of a psychiatric hospital in the Lake District where a doctor named James Haworth has the task of trying to help him remember who he is and what happened to him.

When a journalist comes to do a story on Adam two years later and posts his picture in the newspaper, hundreds of women come forward saying that Adam is their husband, their son or their brother - members of their own family who had been missing presumed dead after the First World War. When I Come Home Again closely interweaves the story of three women who lay claim to Adam. Despite him remembering nothing, they are all adamant that he is theirs.

Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a heartbreaking examination of the aftermath of the First World War, particularly the effects on the women who were left behind. It shows the huge scale of loss and grief and the uncertainty of not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

The Photographer of the Lost, Caroline Scott's debut novel, was one of my favourite books of 2019 and she does not disappoint with this follow up. I was absolutely engrossed in this one! Definitely recommend for any historical fiction lovers.
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Even if you feel this might not be the book for you, I’d really urge you to read the first chapter – we discover the then-unnamed soldier in Durham Cathedral through one of the most powerful pieces of writing it’s ever been my pleasure to read. The descriptions, the imagery, the emotion with which it’s infused – that unforgettable image of the trapped bird ascending the tower to find escape impossible. You will, of course, want to read on – and the sheer perfection of that opening scene is often repeated, scenes where the small details and the larger scale settings will sear themselves into your memory, ineffably beautiful, overflowing with feeling, nature and its constancy in contrast to the turbulent story that then unfolds.

I could go through this whole book mentioning all the scenes that had a profound impact. One more. Adam – that’s the name he’s given – on the train, watching the changing countryside, the impact of his unfamiliar reflection in the window, while he travels to Westmoreland and his new home at Fell House, where efforts will be made to restore his memory and to reunite him with his family. Opposite him sits James, his doctor, on edge and wringing his hands – a man whose troubling memories are very much present, and which disturb his sleep, affect his relationships, and constantly occupy his mind.

A grainy photo in a newspaper, an attempt – often regretted – to find Adam’s family becomes the catalyst for the hopes of so many people to find their son, their brother, their husband whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown, a faint glimmer of possibility amid the grief and post-war darkness. The story focuses on three women who are convinced Adam is the man they’ve been desperate to find – their different reasons and motivations, their individual conviction that they’ve found the man they’re looking for, set against his polite engagement and his own conviction that there must be something in his lost memories that he doesn’t want to recover. The other focus of the story becomes James, and his complex relationship with Caitlin – his guilt over the traumatic wartime death of her twin brother, his body unrecovered, and the spectre of his presence between them.

That’s the bare bones of the narrative. It’s entirely all-consuming, a story you feel rather than simply read, the characters superbly drawn – emotionally challenging, but with touches of lightness and joy that keep alive the spark of hope and the faint possibility that all will be well. But the writing – my goodness, there are times when it takes your breath away. It’s a book filled with “moments”, sometimes filled with silence, sometimes developed through interactions, every one deeply affecting – and the natural world provides solace, the small details of birds and flowers, the changing seasons, the splashes of vivid colour among the darkness.

I’ve found this review so difficult to write – I can only attempt to capture the book’s essence, because I loved it so very much. And its conclusion – that came far sooner than I wanted it to – is absolutely perfect. This might just be the best book I’ve read this year – totally compelling, profoundly moving, and an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.
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This was an emotional, poignant read which I found very absorbing. The author does a great job of setting the scene and I felt fully able to envision what life must have been like after the war. It must have been an incredibly emotional, hard time for everyone with lots of families trying to deal with lost loved ones and traumatised soldiers returning from the front. I could almost feel the three families desperation and anguish as they each tried to convince themselves that Adam was their lost loved one. I found those scenes utterly heartbreaking as I realised, as all of them must have too, that he couldn’t belong to all of them.

It was very interesting to learn more about how they dealt with the emotional trauma and memory loss of soldiers returning from the war. My understanding is that it was still quite a new area of medicine so was still in quite an experimental stage. I enjoyed learning more about memories, especially how they are formed and lost. I thought it gave the book more depth and helped me to understand what Adam was going through more.

Overall I really enjoyed this beautifully written book which will stay with me for a long time. It did take me a little while to get into but I’m glad I stuck with it as I ended up really enjoying it. It reminded me a bit of My Dear I Wanted To Tell You so if you liked that book I think you’ll like this one too!

Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Simon and Schuster for my copy of this book.
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I loved Caroline Scott’s book, The Photographer of the Lost, so I was prepared for an emotional story and beautiful writing in this, her second book; I wasn’t disappointed. Once again the focus is the period after the First World War and the long-lasting effect of the conflict on the lives of so many.

Appropriately, as we approach Remembrance Sunday, the opening scenes of the book depict the journey of the coffin containing the body of the Unknown Warrior prior to its interment in Westminster Abbey. For some, the possibility the body may be that of a lost loved one brings solace, pride even. But for others, including the three women featured in the book, it does nothing but add to their fierce conviction that their missing brother, son or husband is not the body in the coffin, is not dead and will return some day. Often this in the face of advice from others to accept their loved one is gone and move on with their lives.

I loved how photographs play a part in the story, providing a link to the author’s first book. There’s the photograph published in the newspaper of the man given the name Adam Galilee that raises such fervent hope in those who have lost loved ones. And there are the photographs cherished by those families – of brothers, sons, husband who went to war and never came back – produced as evidence that Adam belongs with them. Or the photographs of parents, places or children placed in Adam’s hands in the hope of provoking a response, a flicker of recognition or a glimpse of his life before.

The scenes in which the three women who believe that Adam is their husband, son or brother come face to face with him for the first time are full of emotion and anguish. Their certainty, even though they cannot all be right, is heart-breaking to witness. But the author also conveys the emotional impact these encounters have on Adam himself, knowing the disappointment it will bring if they evoke no memories for him. Equally, the reader witnesses the effect on James Haworth, the doctor in charge of Fellside House, whose dogged determination to uncover Adam’s true identity threatens his own peace of mind.

The theme of memory runs through the book. Whether that’s the memories – good and bad – evoked by a particular place, the “muscle memory” of throwing a pot on a wheel or playing a piece by Chopin on the piano, the memory of a face but without the ability to put a name to it, or the act of remembrance in general. As long as someone is remembered, are they ever really lost? The book also poses the question whether memory can always be relied upon or, in wanting something so much to be true, it can become distorted. “Grief and hope are powerful emotions. What we see is sometimes what we want to see.”

When I Come Home Again is a beautifully crafted, emotional story that is also a timely reminder of the damaged minds and bodies that are the legacy of war.
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A beautifully  written  and  poignant novel about a soldier who came back from the 1st world war  but cannot  remember  his name. An absolutely  moving story  which can't fail to move you to tears. Recommended  for anyone who likes 1st world war history. Fabulous.
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When a uniformed soldier is found cowering in Durham Cathedral in the last few days of WW1, the authorities have no clue as to his identity as the soldier remembers nothing of either his time in the army, or of his previous life with family and friends. Seemingly traumatised, the man, known only by a made up name of Adam Galilee, is taken to Fellside House, a rehabilitation hospital in the English Lake District where kindly doctors attempt to put the jigsaw pieces of Adam's life back together. However, in a desperate attempt to discover Adam's identity, a newspaper publishes a feature along with grainy photograph of him which brings several women to the hospital, each convinced that Adam is someone precious to them.

What then follows is a deeply, emotional story which looks at the trauma of loss and grief, not just of those who are desperately searching for a lost loved one, but also from the fragmented pieces of men who had lost so much of what was precious about themselves. Horrors of trauma and the inglorious nature of war haunts their dreams, and colours their world with nightmare scenes of death and destruction on a scale never before witnessed.

When I Come Home Again is a beautifully written story by an author who doesn't shy away from those stories which have a strong emotional impact. She gives us a really special lyrical quality to the story especially in the describing the area around Fellside House, the natural glory of gardens, the surprises revealed by nature but alongside is the uncompromising effect of the nightmare visions conjured by men who only ever wanted to forget what they had witnessed.

When I Come Home Again is a compelling and heart-wrenching story by a talented author who brings this traumatic period in history alive in a very special way.
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When I Come Home Again is the second novel from Caroline Scott and it is equally as impressive as her debut The Photographer of the Lost. This is a haunting, atmospheric read rich in detail and description that will have you gripped as the emotions rise to the surface as the powerful story develops. Caroline examines how soldiers returning from the first World War were emotionally and sometimes irreparably damaged by their experiences of war and how this affected their loved ones. The story was executed and developed perfectly from beginning to end as you are drawn right in from page one and the grasp and spell this book casts over you does not relinquish its grip until the very last page. 

As with her previous book the entire time as you are reading you are just desperate for concrete answers to so many questions just as the characters are. But Caroline does not reveal these until the last possible minute and even then you are left stumped in a way because what you had been desperately hoping would be revealed often does not happen. You never quite know how this authors books will conclude and even though things don’t always work out the way you wish them to there is still that sense of satisfaction that the right ending has been chosen and for the right reasons. That it fits with the overall themes of the book and the way the story developed.

When I Come Home again has an intriguing opening as a soldier who does not know his name or his regiment stumbles into Durham Cathedral. He has lost his identity for some unknow reason. Is he a deserter? What trauma could have befallen him? How has he come to be in this place? An incident occurs and he is arrested and given the name Adam, it is clear Adam is not well and needs help. In steps James Haworth who works with a Dr. Shepherd. They specialise in mental illnesses and Adam is taken to what some would call an institution for rehabilitation but to James it is more of a care home. James too has suffered in the war and he feels he can help people who have had similar experiences to him. He becomes a confidante, a support and a guardian to Adam as he tries to unlock the secrets that Adam holds deep inside his mind. There are glimpses of the old Adam which when pushed under hypnosis he scrambles to grasp at but throughout the book his mind is more or less firmly closed to what happened to him and who he actually he is. 

To be honest this was really frustrating. I as a reader, and the people involved with Adam, desperately wanted answers and fast but that was not to be the case. So many times as various people step forward claiming to be related or connected to Adam you feel the truth is within touching distance but then with a turn of a page your hopes or suspicions are dashed. I am someone who likes solid evidence and answers but I suppose the book wouldn’t have had the effect that he had on me if everything was plain sailing and straight forward. In this respect the author deftly wove a story of trauma, loss, grief, love, heartache and one of redemption and forgiveness.

Adam is trying to find his way back to his own life but this is not an easy path to tread as he has many demons to battle as does James. His attention to detail and love of nature and drawing offer some clues to his background but these are all tantalising hints that lead the team no further to the truth. Has he good reason to forget his identity and past? Is he not a good man? What if he does not like the person he once was and more importantly what if he has done something truly terrible? There are places in his mind he does not wish to visit no matter how pushed he is yet I wanted him to be pushed further in order to reach the truth. But this cannot be rushed and as his rehabilitation is a very slow process the tone and pace of the book takes on this same pace. This could have led to the book becoming very slow, boring and reptitive but instead it all felt very natural. I came to realise that answers and healing take time and even then you can be left wondering and searching for a definitive conclusion and even if that is reached it many not always supply you with want you wanted to hear or believe.

James has his own nightmares with regard to the war. He is haunted by the fact he does not know for sure what happened to his wife Caitlin’s twin brother Nathaniel. Chapters from his perspective at times take us back to the war and this helps us understand what James went through and to comprehend that really he hasn’t faced up to things at all. These scenes were incredibly detailed and at times hard to read given what was unfolding and the fact that this was happening all over the world on a daily basis and that so many men were left scarred and traumatised. Today one would hope that men returning from war are better understood and that more help can be given to them but over 100 years ago there was not the knowledge or understanding that we have today but still the best was done that was possible.

When Adam is photographed for a piece on unknown soldiers many women step forward claiming to be connected to him and a circus of sorts begins as the truth is desperately sought. It was heartbreaking to read of so many people thinking that Adam was their lost loved one and in their minds they firmly believed that this was the case. It’s hard for us in this modern world to comprehend that people can become unknown and their identities not easily confirmed. Three women are focused on claiming that Adam is theirs and they seem so firm and steadfast in this belief. The book is written in such a way that the reader too believes that all three could possibly be the family that Adam has forgotten and disconnected himself from. 

Anna Mason is searching for her husband Mark, Celia Dakers is still so sure that her son Robert will come back to her and when she meets Adam her belief is only further strengthened and Lucy Vickers can’t quite come to terms that her brother Elis is dead but when she sets eyes on Adam she knows that he has returned. Which if any of the three are correct that Adam is their lost loved one returned from hell but yet not the same person that left them? I could identify with all three women and as their belief stood firm that Adam was their lost one I believed it too but yet my opinion of who was actually connected swayed back and forth and that was simply because the writing of Caroline Scott was so convincing. Every argument and situation put forth I believed in and could see valid points for but still I was hoping there would be plenty of twists and turns before I reached the end of what was proving to be an immensely gripping read which leaves you deep in thought but filled with admiration for what individual soldiers and their families had to go through both during and after the war.

I really enjoyed When I Come Again although, given the subject matter and the emotions it stirs in you, maybe enjoyed is not the correct word but none the less this is another excellent read from Caroline Scott and it cements her place as a historical fiction author who treats her subject matter with such tenderness, care and compassion and writes beautiful , heart breaking and important stories about war and its long last impacting lest we should forget. It’s definitely a read that I would recommend and that ending will stay with me for a long time to come.
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Having read the opening chapters during the summer of 2020, I was keen to read this to find out more about Adam. I felt as if I had rushed through the opening chapters on my Kindle and enjoyed taking my time to read them again in the book. The level of detail in this book really brings each person and place alive.

I’m a mother, a sister and a wife, and I think that may have made this story more heartbreaking. The three women who come forward to ‘claim’ Adam are seeking their son (who was their sole reason for living from being young), their husband (who left on a sour note believing village gossip) and their brother (who they need to help bring up his children after his wife died in childbirth). All have been told by the government that their man is missing in action, all believe that he has not died and all believe that Adam is him. As we discover there are various reasons why Adam may not be one of them, from being too tall or having the wrong hair colour. How has their grief affected their ability to make an honest claim?

Alongside the story of Adam, we have the story of James, who is there to help Adam discover his identity. However James was in France during the War and finds that working with veterans is causing his own memories and nightmares to worsen. His wife’s twin brother was seriously injured during a battle and hasn’t been seen since, and James feels guilty.

In November 1918, many families rejoiced to have their loved ones return home. However many of those loved ones were changed for ever, their physical and/mental health altered in ways that weren’t understood. This book looks at the aftermath of the war, the hopes and dreams of those who fought and those left behind. This is one of those books that will stay in my mind for a long time, beautiful but also heartbreaking.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book. I’m literally blown by the writing. The author has done a fantastic job.  
Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
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*A big thank-you to Caroline Scott, Simon and Schuster UK, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
WW1 is over. Those who served on the Continent, want to forget what they went through. Some want to wipe out memories, some remember nothing following the shellshock. Some relive horrific moments in dreams, and some crave for regaining those who are believed to have been killed.
This is a beautifully written story of the men who fought and the legacy the war left them with, and of women who refuse the truth and hold on to the hope that their husbands, brothers and sons will return one day.
Ms Scott does not hurry her readers, she gives them time to spend with all characters, to learn more of their tragedies and hidden faith. The narration is slow-paced and each character is given space and time to reveal their thoughts and desires.
It was definitely a read that resonated with me ....
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A brilliant novel of the harrowing cost of war. I loved the writing style, the subject and the characters. It is evident in this book that wars not only effect  those on the front line, but also those left behind. It is a heart wrenching novel, beautifully written, and based on fact. It will stay with me for a long time. Thanks to netgalley for an advance copy.
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This is definitely a memorable read. It is an emotional and thought provoking story about a soldier who has lost his memory. The horrors of World War 1 are an horrific read. I felt so sorry for Adam throughout the story. This story is based on fact and that makes it even sadder.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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What a beautifully written story! 

"There's a bird trapped inside the building, and he turns then as he watches  it streak between light and shadow" 

This is another way of also describing the man they decided to call Adam Galilee. He is found inside Durham cathedral and has no memory of who he is. He's memories are trapped inside his head and he is scared to let them out. "Sometimes I see things that I might remember and I don't like them" 

His photo is placed in the newspaper to try and find his relatives and 3 different women claim to know him.  How will this play out? 

It is a story set right after WW1 and it relays the anguish and grief people felt when their loved ones didn't come home and were missing presumed dead. What makes this an even more emotional read is the fact that it is based on a true story. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster UK  for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion
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Caroline Scott blew me away with her debut novel Photographer of the Lost and I thought that she could not better it but I was so wrong.
When I Come Home Again takes it to another level. It is so beautifully written almost ethereal in the way it unfolds the story.
The premise of the book Is that days before the end of World War 1. a soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. He has no knowledge of who he is and how he got there .and has been given the name Adam. After his arrest he is transferred into the care of James a soldier himself who is a physiatrist who hopes to help him recover his memory by what we today would call cognitive therapy.
In an attempt to help Adam recover his memory his picture and story is printed in a national paper.No one could have known the response this would have and the desperation of women to be reunited with their loved ones.
As with her first novel what really blows me away is the depth of her research into that post war period and the desperation of those women  who have lost their loved ones.
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The poet Vernon Scannell, himself a veteran of WW2 wrote a haunting poem he called The Great War. The closing lines are:

"And now,
Whenever the November sky
Quivers with a bugle’s hoarse, sweet cry,
The reason darkens; in its evening gleam
Crosses and flares, tormented wire, grey earth
Splattered with crimson flowers,
And I remember,
Not the war I fought in
But the one called Great
Which ended in a sepia November
Four years before my birth."

There is something about that war, something that echoes down the decades. Even now, when those who fought and survived are all long since dead, the conflict is seared into the national psyche. Caroline Scott is, like many of us who lack her grace and talent as a writer, gripped not so much by the military details, but by the colossal aftershock that continued to cause devastation long after the last shot was fired in November 1918.

In her 2014 novel Those Measureless Fields she began her own personal exploration of what happened to the men and families who had to pick up the pieces of their lives after the Armistice. She followed this in 2019 with what was, for, me one of the books of the year, The Photographer Of The Lost (click to read my review), also known as The Poppy Wife. Now she returns to her theme with When I Come Home Again.

Just weeks after the Armistice, a filthy, dishevelled young man, wearing a tattered soldier's uniform, is arrested by the police after causing minor damage to monuments in Durham cathedral. In custody, he refuses - or is unable - to give his name, or any other clue as to his identity. The police, thinking they may have a case of severe shell-shock on their hands, put him in the care of a young doctor, James Haworth. For want of any other name, they call him Adam Galilee.

At a rehabilitation centre in the Lake District, Haworth tries to find the key that will unlock Adam's memory. James and his boss, Alec Shepherd, take a bold decision. They release a photograph of Adam, and what little they know of him, to the national press. This triggers a wave of mothers, wives and sisters who yearn for the impossible - a virtual resurrection of their lost son, husband and brother. From the tragic queue of broken hearted souls, three women seem to be the most convincing. They are Celia Daker, who believes that Adam is her missing son, Robert, Anna Mason, a young wife who dares to dream that she is no longer a widow, and Lucy Vickers a sister who is now bringing up the children of her lost brother

Haworth is a former soldier himself and is haunted by terrifying dreams of the horrors he experienced during the Battle of The Somme. As he tries to come to terms with the hopes of the three women who believe that Adam is theirs, his own mental health - and with it his marriage - begin to shatter.

I'll be quite frank here. This is not an easy read. I'll say that the bleakest and most harrowing novel I have ever read is Thomas Hardy's Jude The Obscure. If I give that a 10 for heartbreak, then When I Come Home Again is a nailed-on 9. It is, however, haunting and beautifully written and works on so many different levels. In her descriptions of how Adam reacts to the intricacies of the natural world around him, Caroline Scott is surely channelling her inner John Clare, or perhaps remembering Matthew Arnold:

"Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep,
And round green roots and yellowing stalks I see
Pale pink convolvulus in tendrils creep;
And air-swept lindens yield
Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers
Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid."
The Scholar Gypsy 1853

As the book builds towards its conclusion, there is the terrible irony of Adam's palpable fear of returning to his old life - wherever that was - as he retreats more and more into the solace of rebuilding the ruined and neglected walled garden at Fellside House. As for the women who long for Adam to be their son, brother and husband, we fear that they are fated to lose their men twice over, thus doubling the pain. There is dramatic catharsis still to come, and an act of irony worthy of the aforementioned Thomas Hardy. Life must go on, however, and in Adam's restored garden, perhaps Caroline Scott has created a metaphor for regeneration. There is deep, deep sadness at the very heart and soul of this book but like the blossom on the damson trees of Fellside Hall this fine novel leaves us, to borrow Milton, "calm of mind all passion spent." and with a sense that renewal might - just might - be possible
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November 1918: On the cusp of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. It quickly become clear that he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. He is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home where his doctor, James, tries everything he can to help Adam remember. But Adam doesn't want to remember. 

This story is based on on a true eve to. The characters are all f.awed, 3ven the doctor is left traumatised after witnessing eventw during the First World War.  The characters were likeab,e and believable. The story is told from multiple perspectives. Tnis is a heartbreaking read.  8t reveals the tragedies of war. Will they ever find out who Adam really is? You'll need to read the  ooh to find out.

I would like to thank #NetGalley, #SimonAndSchuster for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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When I Come Home Again is a gently-paced book that packs a searing and lasting punch … all the more so for being based on true events.  It’s a fresh retelling of the devastation of war; of the carnage it wreaks on the soul of a man and on the families left at home. Set in the aftermath of the First World War, this story recounts the turmoil of soldiers returning home - how changed they are, and their struggles to settle back into the families and lives that were once so familiar. Despite being set in the early 1920s, the events within the pages of this incredible book are as relevant to today as they ever were.

I found the narrative style ethereal and dreamlike, which made it all the more compelling.  It’s stirring, expressive prose is enchanting to read, and I frequently found myself immersed in the author’s evocative rendering of the countryside in which the book is set. However, the brutality and shock of the war is ever-present in the nightmares and repressed memories of the book’s main characters, occasionally punching its way through the bucolic calm of the beautiful prose.  The effect of these two contrary realities is utterly haunting, each silhouetting the other in stark relief.

The final chapters of When I Come Home Again are an unstoppable force, bringing a rounded, all too real, conclusion to the tumultuous emotions of the events and chapters that have gone before. I read most of the book with that butterfly sensation that comes with high emotions, and there were passages that caused my eyes to leak!  Immense care has been taken in the researching and writing of this book, and it’s not one to be rushed, it deserves our full attention and contemplation.

I’ve not read any of Caroline Scott’s books before now (this will change!), so I wasn’t quite prepared for the genuine beauty of her writing. Yes, I’d taken a sneak peek at a few other reviews of this book before I started reading … but I was still taken aback by her talent for creating such beautiful, rich and vivid images with an extremely skilful simplicity of prose. This book evokes a powerful, emotional response; it created a world I yearned to step in to … and yet never to be part of; it elicits an understanding … and yet a sense of disbelief.  This haunting story will stay with me for quite some time, and I will certainly be recommending this book wholeheartedly to all my fellow bookworms, my friends, and every seeker of literary brilliance.
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