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Extended Audio Sample The Return of the Soldier Audiobook, by Rebecca West Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.83 out of 53.83 out of 53.83 out of 53.83 out of 53.83 out of 5 3.83 (23 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rebecca West Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2008 ISBN: 9781455173556
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When Captain Chris Baldry, a World War I soldier, is sent home with a severe case of shellshock amnesia, he is a stranger to his wife, Kitty, and his adoring cousin, Jenny. Recoiling from the horrors of war and disillusioned with years of superficial married life, his mind has regressed fifteen years, where his heart may take refuge once again in the magic circle of his youth and of his first love, Margaret Allington.

In this lyrical and poignant story of a wounded man and the three concerned women who seek to heal him, Rebecca West explores the complexity of the mind and its subtle strategies for coping with life’s painful realities. Only when Chris has the courage to face one pivotal moment of truth in his married life will he be able to awaken from his boyish fantasy and become, indeed, “every inch a soldier.”

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1963

Quotes & Awards

  • “For after The Return of the Soldier, there could be no doubt whatever that Rebecca West possesse[s] what had already partly revealed itself in her criticism—the supreme gift in literature, a creative imagination.”

    New York Evening Post

  • “[West’s] strength of mind, her powers of observation, her complete grasp of the workings of the human mind in abnormal conditions, as illustrated in The Return of the Soldier, are gifts that are denied even writers of considerable reputation and popularity.”

    Medicine and Surgery

  • “A unique poignant little piece of fiction…[West] develops a situation of remarkable power and fine emotional import in the searching light of which the handful of characters who make up this heart drama stand vividly forth.”

    Bookseller, Newsdealer, & Stationer

  • “In the same way that a fine actor can make Shakespeare’s verse sound spontaneous and natural, [McCaddon] gives West a voice that sounds familiar and unforced, allowing the poignancy and psychological sophistication of the story to be heard.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristine | 2/8/2014

    " I love short novels that have such depth. West gets to the heart of the matter in the space of a few pages and does it without neglecting attention to detail; the description is quite lush. Shell-shocked Chris Baldry returns home from the front of WWI to a wife he doesn't remember, still in love with a girl from 15 years before, who's now an aged working-class married woman. West writes the story from the perspective of Baldry's female cousin, furthering the distance and conflict inherent in the situation. (view spoiler)[The title refers to both his homecoming and, sadly, his eventual return to the front. (hide spoiler)] "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jacqueline | 2/6/2014

    " This isn't a review, but a complaint. West uses the phrase she wears "cheap stays" for every woman who is not of her class. Her small homes are "squalid", her Margaret was like a house that let out the smell of cooking cabbage and the sound of screaming children. Very purple prose. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 careen moreno | 1/11/2014

    " _The Return of the Soldier_ is a pretty quick read, set in Europe in World War II. It addresses a common theme at the time, which was how those who went to war and those left behind coped with the difficult reality of the time. The story is fairly simple, while capturing the very complicated emotional tangles of several people whose lives have been turned upside down by either going off to war, or being left behind to continue life as best they can. For those interested in WW2 literature, this is a good and quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather Shaw | 1/10/2014

    " My heart is breaking... Fucking Kitty... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wally | 1/7/2014

    " This book quietly but persistently destroys a common idea about the relative value of reality and its ministers (pscyhologists, psychiatrists, etc) in the course of its lovely pages. Along the way it has some harsh ideas about bourgeois aesthetics as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 12/22/2013

    " Brief, terribly sad and utterly lovely. I listened to the audiobook--first time I've read Rebecca West, and it won't be the last. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gregory | 12/15/2013

    " A fine story and well-written, but the resolution is marred by Freudian hooey. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deanne | 12/9/2013

    " Story which gives the view point of a WWI soldier returning home from the war, shell shocked and suffering from amnesia. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aerial Nun | 10/22/2013

    " I don't understand how Rebecca West has alluded me for all these years, but I loved this book and can't wait to read more of her work. Tight, claustrophobic, gorgeous prose. A wonderful short novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 4/27/2013

    " Interesting!! and quick! my first experience with Rebecca West. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bette | 11/14/2012

    " For a story that's only about eighty pages long, this book really packs an emotional punch. Usually I know how I want a story to end, but with this one, I felt torn. Either way, lives would be ruined. Very poignant and gorgeously written--hard to believe this was West's first novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 8/28/2012

    " When I read Rebecca West's prose, I feel like I'm reading poetry. Her descriptions are so beautiful--filled with tender images. This is a sad story, but it touches on all of the key themes of WWI literature. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tara | 6/11/2012

    " very good. very difficult to finish. i'm going to have to hide this book for a little while as not to get upset. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah Funke | 5/30/2012

    " Quick, interesting; I'm assuming it's not her best work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Salvatore Leone | 4/10/2012

    " A man returns from World War I with little memory of what he's returning home to, well written story, with believable characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brittany | 2/20/2012

    " It a quick read--less than 100 pages. It gives a fresh insight to the effects of World War 1 on the women that the soldiers leave behind. It plays with time and memory in a way that shows there is something much worse than losing your husband in war because of death. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Obisbooks | 2/19/2012

    " WWI, a soldier with memory loss, how that effects him and his family, and how a return can mean many things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rohan Maitzen | 8/12/2011

    " Astonishing. Painful, intense, lyrical, mystical, disturbing. I'll write more about it on the blog as soon as I can. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Slinkyboy | 5/7/2011

    " For such a sad story, Rebecca West's prose is lyrically beautiful and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ke | 4/10/2011

    " It could have been a high concept movie idea and it went beyond that. It is short and a bit confusing but it had depth.

    Some female characters seem to be infanticized but it concerned interesting themes related to love, memory and loss. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer W | 3/18/2011

    " I'm not yet sure... The prose was wonderful, but I'm not sure what I thought about the story. I shall have to ponder for a little bit and write more after I've thought about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zen | 3/12/2011

    " Man, Rebecca West, you are so pretentious! And yet there is something true under all that blah blah blah. I'm not going to quit you, but I AM going to make many a disapproving sniff while reading your books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aacharya Didn't | 1/18/2011

    " A short novel, leaves a lot to assumptions, would leave u thinking on wat cud hav happened.. Nice one to discuss n argue abt. Read it as part of group-reads on the Indian Readers group. "

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About the Author
Author Rebecca West

Rebecca West (1892–1983) was a British-born author, well known for her novels, journalism, literary criticism, and travel literature. West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of the twentieth century. Her works include Black Lamb and Grey Falcon and A Train of Powder.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.