Review: Bodies of Men by Nigel Featherstone

9780733640704.jpgUnafraid of emotion, though without a moment of wretched sentimentality, Bodies of Men magnificently conveys love, courage, endurance and comradeship straining against the cataclysmic backdrop of World War II. With unobtrusively elegant prose, Nigel Featherstone has crafted a vidid evocation of the arduous complexities of love between two men inured by the traumas of conflict. The result is something very special indeed: equal parts compelling, harrowing, and tender.

The book opens in Egypt, 1941. Mere hours after disembarking in Alexandria, William Marsh, a twenty-one-year-old Australian corporal, finds himself engaged in battle with the Italian enemy, and unable to squeeze the trigger and end a life. Incredibly, William is saved by James Kelly, a childhood friend from Sydney; the two men have always shared a lingering affinity, but despite their reunion, their assumption is they will each move on, serving their country, separately, living in each other’s memory. But despite their divergent paths — William is dispatched to supervise an army depot in the Western Desert, while James Kelly goes AWOL with an unusual family with deeply-buried secrets — fate thrusts them back together in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Bodies of Men holds the reader from first page to last. With exquisite artistry, Featherstone writes about people trapped in a tragic situation struggling to reconcile their responsibilities and desires.

ISBN: 9780733640704
Format: Paperback / softback (233mm x 153mm x 25mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Hachette Australia
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publish Date: 23-Apr-2019
Country of Publication: Australia

3 thoughts on “Review: Bodies of Men by Nigel Featherstone

  1. Sometimes when you start a new book, something in the first few pages jumps out at you and no matter how hard you try, the thoughts become a hurdle which can spoil the enjoyment of the book. This happened early on for me with ‘Bodies Of Men’. The hurdle? The author’s constant referring to William being an officer when in fact he’s a corporal, just one rung above the bottom-of-the-ladder private. Yes, corporals are Non-Commissioned Officers but they are never referred to as officer nor are they treated as one. I’m only up to page 44 but any corporal who acted as William did would soon be cut down to size by his fellow soldiers.

    Privates and corporals share a mess and quarters. The next-up rank, sergeants, share a mess and quarters, and then comes the top rung the officers, and never the twain shall meet particularly in the 1940s.

    When William rescues the lost boys in the Blue Mountains, the newspaper headline reads, “Officer and a Hero Already” when the headline would more likely have been, “Soldier and a Hero Already”.

    It’s just so jarring and I hope I can get past this before I get much further along in the novel.

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