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Setting for this story of the extraordinary devotion that develops between silent morose John Hillard full of war's futility and his as yet unscathed trench mate David. Set in the First World War Beautifully written it almost reads like a poem if not exactly Wilfred Owen s poem of the same title Trench horror contrasts with the unreality of life in Blighty experienced by one of the characters in the novel home on leave so unreal he can t wait to get back to FranceThe strange meeting is that between two officers John and David David and Jonathan and the resulting bond between them One of them writes as a poet might OwenIt brought the war its horrors and ironies home to me in an unforgettable way Let Sleeping Dogs Lie yet unscathed trench mate David. Set in the First World War Beautifully written it almost reads like a poem if not exactly Wilfred Owen s poem of the same title Trench horror contrasts with the unreality of life in Blighty experienced by one of the characters in the novel home on leave so unreal he can t wait to get back to FranceThe strange meeting is that between two officers John and David David and Jonathan and the resulting bond between them One of them writes as a poet might OwenIt brought the war its horrors and ironies home to me in an unforgettable way

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Strange Meeting

A heart rending tale of friendship in wartime that deserves a place on the shelf beside the great books of wartime literature The trenches of the Western Front are the. I don t think this is a very well known or celebrated book but with the exception of Barker s Regeneration Trilogy I can t think of another World War I story that has moved me as deeply While in many ways a subtle novel missing a lot of the overblown overwrought movie moments found in other war novels it seamlessly captures the agony and ugliness of a war that devoured a whole generation of young men It in no way glorifies the war and presents it as what it is unadulterated irrational horror snuffing out promising lives without either meaning or grace The beauty of the book is instead found in the rare meaningful friendship that forms between two young soldiers in one tiny corner of the war It s the kind of extraordinary intrinsic friendship that even a lucky person might find only once in life and the author rendered it and both wonderful characters brilliantly This is a uiet painful utterly beautiful book and than once it reminded me of a poem by A E Housman Like this novel it s simpler and restrained than a lot of the famous war poems and like this novel I find it to be incredibly moving and trueHere dead we lie Because we did not choose To live and shame the land From which we sprung Life to be sure Is nothing much to lose But young men think it is And we were young Promises in Tumble Creek young men It in no way glorifies the war and presents it as what it is unadulterated irrational horror snuffing out promising lives without either meaning or grace The beauty of the book is instead found in the rare meaningful friendship that forms between two Mischief and Marriage young soldiers in one tiny corner of the war It s the kind of extraordinary intrinsic friendship that even a lucky person might find only once in life and the author rendered it and both wonderful characters brilliantly This is a uiet painful utterly beautiful book and than once it reminded me of a poem by A E Housman Like this novel it s simpler and restrained than a lot of the famous war poems and like this novel I find it to be incredibly moving and trueHere dead we lie Because we did not choose To live and shame the land From which we sprung Life to be sure Is nothing much to lose But Cold Case, Hot Accomplice (Men of Wolf Creek, young men think it is And we were Blackmailed Into the Greek Tycoons Bed (International Billionaires, young

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Barton The lyrical beauty of Hill's narrative draws the reader in and doesn't let go This little novel is a gem compelling and moving a treat for all readers of fiction. Once I knew I was going to write Strange Meeting it actually fell into place remarkably easily I suppose there are two ways a writer can tackle such a subject One way is to write a very long panoramic historical novel attempting to capture the whole sweep of the war But there was no way I could have done that or wanted to I have never been interested in that kind of book neither as a writer nor as a readerThe alternative was to write a novel of the war in microcosm to create a small world within the great one of the whole war So the book is really about two young men and their meeting their relationship set in a few places over a few short months in one particular small corner of the Great War So says Susan Hill in the afterword to this novel and it encapsulates the story in a nutshell Because this is essentially the tale of two young men one serious and reserved the other jolly and outgoing and their unlikely friendship A friendship made possible only by warThe story is set during the First World War on the war front in France Lieutenant John Hilliard belongs to a family of stiff upper lipped Britishers his only close companion is his elder sister Beth As John is temporarily invalided out of the army due to a leg injury he finds that he can no longer empathise with them not even his beloved sister The fact that she is going to marry a widower many years her senior just for security does nothing for his peace of mind John s sleep what little he can get is beset with nightmares and he is actually relieved when he has to report back to the frontBut his unit has also changed irrevocably in his absence Many of the oldies are either dead or maimed The Commanding Officer Garret is disillusioned to the point of despair Men who have been planning to finish the war and go home for Christmas is getting used to the fact they are in for a long haul in the trenchesThe only ray of sunshine in this atmosphere of gloom and doom is David Barton John s roommate A member of large and warm family that is the antithesis of the Hilliard family Barton goes about spreading cheer He does not have a negative word for anyone or anything Though initially annoyed with this sunniness Hilliard slowly comes to appreciate his roommate s persona and what it means for the whole unit Ironically as the days go by and the war gets dirtier Barton slowly loses his positivity but by that time John has been converted He tells his friend that he is the most essential thing in the unitAs the novel slowly proceeds to its inevitable tragic conclusion John Hilliard realises that he has finally gained a real family through Barton s letters in which he featured prominently a family which his own can never hope to emulate The last sentence of the book says John looked up and ahead In context it is a simple statement but if we look beyond the written word it marks a profound transformation in a man who used to look only within and backward Strange Meeting is a very simply written novel There are no frills no flowery metaphors no colourful phrases like the life of the soldier at the front it is largely boringly humdrum But as the story proceeds the transformation from the beauty of the French landscape to the mud and sleet of the trenches in autumn is masterfully done We feel the descent into doom and despair along with the protagonists the last part of the book is rather painful to get through Yet for all its darkness this a story of light the light of camaraderie and friendship Devoted to Drew young men and their meeting their relationship set in a few places over a few short months in one particular small corner of the Great War So says Susan Hill in the afterword to this novel and it encapsulates the story in a nutshell Because this is essentially the tale of two Marriage by Deception years her senior just for security does nothing for his peace of mind John s sleep what little he can get is beset with nightmares and he is actually relieved when he has to report back to the frontBut his unit has also changed irrevocably in his absence Many of the oldies are either dead or maimed The Commanding Officer Garret is disillusioned to the point of despair Men who have been planning to finish the war and go home for Christmas is getting used to the fact they are in for a long haul in the trenchesThe only ray of sunshine in this atmosphere of gloom and doom is David Barton John s roommate A member of large and warm family that is the antithesis of the Hilliard family Barton goes about spreading cheer He does not have a negative word for anyone or anything Though initially annoyed with this sunniness Hilliard slowly comes to appreciate his roommate s persona and what it means for the whole unit Ironically as the days go by and the war gets dirtier Barton slowly loses his positivity but by that time John has been converted He tells his friend that he is the most essential thing in the unitAs the novel slowly proceeds to its inevitable tragic conclusion John Hilliard realises that he has finally gained a real family through Barton s letters in which he featured prominently a family which his own can never hope to emulate The last sentence of the book says John looked up and ahead In context it is a simple statement but if we look beyond the written word it marks a profound transformation in a man who used to look only within and backward Strange Meeting is a very simply written novel There are no frills no flowery metaphors no colourful phrases like the life of the soldier at the front it is largely boringly humdrum But as the story proceeds the transformation from the beauty of the French landscape to the mud and sleet of the trenches in autumn is masterfully done We feel the descent into doom and despair along with the protagonists the last part of the book is rather painful to get through Yet for all its darkness this a story of light the light of camaraderie and friendship


10 thoughts on “Strange Meeting

  1. says:

    I don't think this is a very well known or celebrated book but with the exception of Barker's Regeneration Trilogy I can't think of another Wor

  2. says:

    Strange Meeting Afterword

  3. says:

    I had not read Susan Hill before but when I've seen her titles I thought she veered toward ghost stories As I chose to read this because it continues my exploration of WWI I wasn't sure what to expect from her It was nothing of what might hav

  4. says:

    A deeply moving and beautifully written story set during World War 1

  5. says:

    Set in the First World War Beautifully written it almost reads like a poem if not exactly Wilfred Owen's poem of the same title Trench

  6. says:

    Despite the inevitability of their being sad and depressing I will persist in reading novels about the First World War Maybe I’d stop if there wasn’t so much well written fiction about the war and indeed wars in general In this case 'Strange Meeting' is an account of the relationship between two officers over a rela

  7. says:

    This sad and haunting tale of the deep friendship which evolves between two officers serving in the trenches during WW1 is so well written and has such sensitivity that it couldn't fail to be movingOf the two men one is alr

  8. says:

    Once I knew I was going to write Strange Meeting it actually fell into place remarkably easily I suppose there are two ways a writer can tackle such a subject One way is to write a very long panoramic historical novel attempting to

  9. says:

    WWI officer John Hilliard returns to France after spending several months in England recovering from a serious wound He i

  10. says:

    A short but beautiful book It doesn't have the scope of All uiet on the Western Front or other war related books like For Whom the Bell Tolls It's very focused on a short space of time and only two real locations The first is England the home of a recuperating John Hilliard recently invalided out of the Trenches and on leave to recover The second is the Trenches themselves and the surrounding French countryside These two microcos

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