Cover Image: When I Come Home Again

When I Come Home Again

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This is a slow burner, the pace is beautifully set and compliments a very difficult time and subject in the history of the world. Young men sent to fight, sent to be slaughtered in the killing fields of France. Returning home (the lucky?) to be confronted by a society totally unable to deal with the effects of close combat not able to understand ptsd, a word only recognized in the latter days of the 20th century. Adam emotionally damaged by his experiences in the trenches is sent to Fellside House in Durham where he is a patient to James Hawarth, himself also a casualty of the great war. These are men so traumatised and with such severe memory loss that they do not know who they are. Most of Caroline Scott’s novel concerns the many visitors who attend the hospital hoping to find their loved ones last scene on the road to France.
This book wonderfully shows the effect of war not only on the victims but also their immediate family; wives, mothers, lovers girlfriends…who individually visit Fellside in the hope that their visit will give them the answers they yearn for. A most enjoyable read. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for and honest review and that is what I have written.
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A haunting story a soldiers return after WW1 a man broken by what he has been through the horrors he has seen many soldiers returned damaged.This book pulls at the heartstrings a worthy read,
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The way in which Caroline Scott writes about the long lasting trauma faced by soldiers of World War One is haunting. The style is achingly beautiful and you can feel the emotion on every page. This is the sort of book that stays with you a long time after finishing it.
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For me, the premise of Caroline Scott’s new novel ‘When I Come Home Again’, set in the aftermath of the First World War, is irresistible:

When baffled doctors place a photograph of an amnesiac soldier they have named ‘Adam’ in the newspaper with the hope of discovering his identity, three women come forward - a mother, a sister, a wife – all claiming him as their own. But to whom – if any of them – does Adam truly belong?

But what makes the premise all the more irresistible is that it is based on a true story.

As with her first book, Scott utilises a less explored aspect of the Great War to demonstrate the long shadows cast by the conflict. Each of her characters continues to suffer and endure long after the armistice has been declared, from Adam who has closed his mind to protect himself from the horrors he has experienced, to his doctor, James, burdened by guilt for his inability to save his wife's brother - while his wife feels she has lost, in her twin, an intrinsic part of herself. 

But it is the three women’s stories that I found most affecting. Scott draws Adam with various attributes that appear to reinforce each woman’s claim – his knowledge of Latin names, his ability to draw, his love of nature – so as readers, we are unsure who to doubt and who to believe, and as we come to know and understand Celia, Lucy and Anna, we become invested in them. What Scott does brilliantly is to convey not only the women’s desperate hope that Adam is indeed their missing loved one, but also their mounting anguish as they attempt to persuade the doctors – and themselves – of the veracity of their convictions. And through it all, there is Adam – an exhibit, a pawn, a tortured soul - who comes to feel a sense of responsibility for each woman’s emotional needs, while remaining unable to deny – or fulfil - his own. 

‘When I Come Home Again’ is a heart-breaking read which reveals the far-reaching tragedies of war. My heart ached for the three women and for Adam, and though I wanted the best for all of them, an undercurrent throughout the novel warns there can be few happy endings in such a situation. Whilst I very much enjoyed ‘The Photographer of the Lost’, for me, ‘When I Come Home Again’ was the more moving read, and the one which will stay with me. I highly recommend it – and I very much look forward to Caroline Scott’s next novel.
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When I come home again begins in Britain at the end of WW1. It is the tale of a soldier who survived with his life but not his memory. Given the name Adam, he is found and brought to a rehabilitation home by his doctor James, who then attempts to aid Adam in the recovery of his memories. However, it soon becomes clear that Adam does not want to remember, having successfully locked away the trauma of war. 
Adam settles into his life of oblivion, relearning and rediscovering his love of nature. But when a newspaper article publishes his photograph and story in an attempt to find his family the peace Adam has become familiar with is upturned. Three women come forward to claim Adam as their family, each with a compelling case of their own, who will swear Adam is their Mark or Ellis or Robert. 
Written from the point of view of numerous characters, each of whom have lost a loved one to the war, this book explores trauma, hope and death and the complex coping mechanisms of humans in response to these emotions. The nature of the tale is such that it intrigues its reader and prompts them to guess the outcome which is deeply ingrained in fundamental human sensibility. 
It is a very compelling retelling of what I’m sure is hundreds of similar tales. It is thought provoking in very emotional ways, leaving the reader with many what ifs, however, the realness of the story resonated throughout in unexpected heart-wrenching ways.
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** spoiler alert ** SPOILERS


So much to like in this book.
Flawed characters,all wounded by the war. .The central ones of James,Adam and Caitlin were all so likeable and believable.

Other characters,all desperate to see their son/husband/brother in Adam could make your heart break.... that a stranger in your home is prefable to the emptiness of not knowing,the daily struggle of going on every day.

I'm so glad the book didn't end without finding out who Adam was ,which I thought as I got closer to the last pages it would... but for me,it felt an incredibly weak reason to leave your husband in limbo for years.

Overall though,great book I'll be recommending to others.
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A deeply ,harrowing. story of World War One,where soldiers return damaged and broken. The main character remembers nothing,but the story is so much more,mothers,sisters,wives are desperate to claim him. A moving story.
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A man in uniform appears in Durham Cathedral. He is lost, confused, and can’t tell police where he’s come from, how he got there, or even his own name. He is taken to a rehabilitation home where his doctor, James Haworth, struggles to help him remember his past and find a place for himself in what’s left of the world after the First World War. When normal methods don’t seem to be working, Haworth places a photo of ‘Adam’ in the newspaper - a plea to all the families who received the dreaded ‘missing, believed killed’ letters throughout the conflict. They expected a few responses - instead, they receive hundreds. They all claim that he belongs with them, that they’ve always known he was out there, that they all need him. But grief can make people believe all sorts of things. 

I was a tiny bit apprehensive about reading When I Come Home Again. I’ve only recently finished Scott’s first novel, The Photographer of the Lost, and adored every page of it. Would her second novel be as good? 

I needn’t have worried. When I Come Home Again is as beautifully written, as heartbreaking, as moving, as Scott’s first novel. I devoured this novel in two days, only putting it down because I had to work! I was so invested in each of the women who believed Adam was ‘theirs’ - I so wanted Celia to find her son, I wished he could be what Lucy needed after the war had dealt her such heavy responsibilities, I longed for Anna to get the forgiveness and closure she so desperately needed. Scott is an expert at weaving intricate, fragile storylines and subplots, each one complementing the others. James and Caitlin’s own grief and marital struggles were devastating and frustrating, as all marital struggles are. I found myself getting angry at James - listen to your wife! Talk to her! - but at the same time my heart broke for him as he grappled with his own memories of the war that he wished he could forget, like Adam had. 

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around the sheer amount of grief and suffering that came out of the First World War, or, really, any war. And with my own husband being in the military, I truly cannot imagine the agony of just not knowing, of being told that he was ‘missing’. I fear I might be like one of these women - desperately, frantically trying to believe  ‘Adam’ was him. 

Truly I am so excited to read Scott’s next works.
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When I Come Home Again by Caroline by Caroline Scott is an excellent debut historical fiction from Ms. Scott that will stay with me for quite some time.
 
I was initially drawn in by the premise and the time period being WWI. From the first chapter, I was pulled in by the mystery, plot, and wonderfully developed character cast.
 
This is not just a war-era novel about finding the identity of this particular individual. This is a book that brought, at least to me, to light a face, a person that represented each and every soldier, citizen, and individual that was affected during the active war and battles, but also that was affected by the loss and trauma afterwards. It was as if Adam was able to represent every person that was lost to loved ones (physically and emotionally) from war.  It put a face to a name of the many that were lost forever and never to return as they were, or at all. It was heart breaking, heavy, emotional, and a story that is needed to be told so that these sacrifices are never forgotten.
 
I went through a lot of reflection and different emotions as I devoured this book, and it gave me another perspective of the events and persons affected. The author accomplished her goal of writing an interesting, important, and emotional book. An important story that I hope continues to be told.
 
5/5 stars
 
Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster UK for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
 
I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.
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