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A brutally honest portrayal of the realities of war, this novel relays the story of 15year old Thomas Elkin as he engages in the First World War. A tale of conflict, both global and personal, and of redemption, this is a novel that has the potential to rank alongside the best of retrospective First World War literature. Accepting the blame for the accidental death of his r A brutally honest portrayal of the realities of war, this novel relays the story of 15year old Thomas Elkin as he engages in the First World War. A tale of conflict, both global and personal, and of redemption, this is a novel that has the potential to rank alongside the best of retrospective First World War literature. Accepting the blame for the accidental death of his recently conscripted brother, Elkin switches identity with his dead brother and enters into the fray of the conflict. His burning ambition is to die a glorious death in his brother’s name. Believing that, in fully submitting to the reality of war he is atoning for his sins, he faces all the attendant horrors with a steel will and a poignant resignation. His personal conflict sees itself mirrored in the wider events and soon the two are inextricably linked raising issues of mortality, morality, guilt and faith. This novel enacts the kind of existential crises experienced on the battlefield with the constant threat of imminent and fatal danger a companion. Written with deft skill and sensitivity for the subject matter at hand, this is a piece of stylish work that places the reader at the heart of the action. Featuring nuanced characters and vivid action scenes, it works to evoke a real sense of the times as the story unfolds.


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A brutally honest portrayal of the realities of war, this novel relays the story of 15year old Thomas Elkin as he engages in the First World War. A tale of conflict, both global and personal, and of redemption, this is a novel that has the potential to rank alongside the best of retrospective First World War literature. Accepting the blame for the accidental death of his r A brutally honest portrayal of the realities of war, this novel relays the story of 15year old Thomas Elkin as he engages in the First World War. A tale of conflict, both global and personal, and of redemption, this is a novel that has the potential to rank alongside the best of retrospective First World War literature. Accepting the blame for the accidental death of his recently conscripted brother, Elkin switches identity with his dead brother and enters into the fray of the conflict. His burning ambition is to die a glorious death in his brother’s name. Believing that, in fully submitting to the reality of war he is atoning for his sins, he faces all the attendant horrors with a steel will and a poignant resignation. His personal conflict sees itself mirrored in the wider events and soon the two are inextricably linked raising issues of mortality, morality, guilt and faith. This novel enacts the kind of existential crises experienced on the battlefield with the constant threat of imminent and fatal danger a companion. Written with deft skill and sensitivity for the subject matter at hand, this is a piece of stylish work that places the reader at the heart of the action. Featuring nuanced characters and vivid action scenes, it works to evoke a real sense of the times as the story unfolds.

52 review for Coming Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    mountainmama

    Thomas is a 15-year-old English farm boy whose older brother, Archie, is an abusive jerk. During a confrontation, Archie is accidentally killed, and Thomas fakes his own death and assumes Archie’s identity as a cover, reporting for duty as a new recruit in WWI. From there, we follow Thomas as he attempts to assuage his guilt by trying to die in the battlefield to escape his conscience. Mr. Stolworthy has a fabulous way with words – descriptions are vivid and emotions are real. The gruesome facts Thomas is a 15-year-old English farm boy whose older brother, Archie, is an abusive jerk. During a confrontation, Archie is accidentally killed, and Thomas fakes his own death and assumes Archie’s identity as a cover, reporting for duty as a new recruit in WWI. From there, we follow Thomas as he attempts to assuage his guilt by trying to die in the battlefield to escape his conscience. Mr. Stolworthy has a fabulous way with words – descriptions are vivid and emotions are real. The gruesome facts and horrors of the trenches are portrayed brilliantly, forcing the reader to live the atrocities and feel the despair, misery, anguish, and hopelessness of the soldiers, while marveling at the sense of duty and courage displayed by so many young men under such ghastly conditions. I have enjoyed a few other books by this author, and although the others have been great reads, this one is a masterpiece! Five stars is not enough to rank this one. Bravo, sir.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This was a hard book to put down. I could really feel the turmoil and emotions of the main character. This book really drew you into the time period. If you like historical fiction revolving around war, I recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    James Buchanan

    Well written, harrowing account of a young soldiers life in the first world war. Gruesome detail for a gruesome subject. How lucky we are to live in modern times.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave White

    An interesting book about WW1. I thought there were issues that took away from the story and those affected my enjoyment. The description of medical care, maggots in wounds and mercy killing in particular were, in my opinion, over the top. The first world war was terrible but I think the author exaggerated conditions unnecessarily. The living conditions on their own were sufficiently horrible. Another example was an overheard conversation where German soldiers are fearful of transfer to the Russian An interesting book about WW1. I thought there were issues that took away from the story and those affected my enjoyment. The description of medical care, maggots in wounds and mercy killing in particular were, in my opinion, over the top. The first world war was terrible but I think the author exaggerated conditions unnecessarily. The living conditions on their own were sufficiently horrible. Another example was an overheard conversation where German soldiers are fearful of transfer to the Russian front. The eastern front was a relative cakewalk for German soldiers compared to the western front. It just didn't ring true. The last complaint is the death of the burnt soldier at the medal presentation ceremony and subsequent revelation of Thomas having escaped through the back door of the inn. This is never explained. Who was the person in the wheel chair? These took away from an already tenuous story line. Not sorry I read it but it could have been much better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Crabbe

    I chose to read this novel because its description suggested a compelling story with a deep exploration of the psyche of a soldier in the cataclysm of World War One. I was not disappointed. The protagonist goes to war voluntarily, under-age for the army but driven by guilt and fear to throw himself into danger at every opportunity. Because of a terrible event early in the narrative, he assumes his older brother’s identity, thus complicating his relationship with the military authorities, his comr I chose to read this novel because its description suggested a compelling story with a deep exploration of the psyche of a soldier in the cataclysm of World War One. I was not disappointed. The protagonist goes to war voluntarily, under-age for the army but driven by guilt and fear to throw himself into danger at every opportunity. Because of a terrible event early in the narrative, he assumes his older brother’s identity, thus complicating his relationship with the military authorities, his comrades and his family at home. How he deals with all of that—along with the usual issues of adolescent development—in the midst of the utter hell of the war is narrated with considerable power. Through the author’s clear and unpretentious language, the thoughts and emotions of an ordinary teen-age boy from rural England are conveyed very well. The horror, filth, despair, friendship and heroism of the soldiers’ lives come fully alive. There are some cunning twists in the plot, especially towards the end of the book, that kept me reading eagerly. The conclusion was very satisfying. I did wonder, though, whether the middle section of the novel needed to be as long. Yes, the author does a very good job of showing the folly and inhumanity of much military strategy, the deplorable conditions and the blind futility of the war as a whole. Yet some of the situations and battle incidents seemed to be making similar points without adding much to the development of character or plot. Was I missing a few things of value through lapses in concentration? You be the judge. If you like stories about a rite de passage, or about a war that continues to shape our world a hundred years later, or if you simply like excellent suspense stories, I heartily recommend Roy E. Stolworthy’s novel to you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Coote

    I don't normally read books set in the war but having been recommended this one I thought I'd give it a go....it was fantastic, I couldn't put the book down, it was so well written I was there with Thomas feeling his emotions from page to page. Highly recommended and can't wait to read another book written by this wonderfully talented author. A film should be made from this book I don't normally read books set in the war but having been recommended this one I thought I'd give it a go....it was fantastic, I couldn't put the book down, it was so well written I was there with Thomas feeling his emotions from page to page. Highly recommended and can't wait to read another book written by this wonderfully talented author. A film should be made from this book

  7. 5 out of 5

    Belle

    The storyline was great. The only thing I had a problem with was that sometimeshe crucial details were missed. An example is when Thomas came across Archie in the barn. What happened to Josie? No one knows. Also language is definitely a problem. Definitely not a book for children. If you want a book about the harsh realities of war, this is it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Loonywoman

    Ashamed to say that I chose this turkey for my book group to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jason Evans

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ann Roberts

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gene Apling

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda Sheridan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gib1970

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jean Heywood

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard Ault

  19. 4 out of 5

    MR. S. BEATTIE

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donella

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michal

  22. 5 out of 5

    Damon Oconnor

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mr Nicholas O'Hare

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Sentance

  25. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Walton

  26. 4 out of 5

    Timothy M. Bagwell

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Mazzotta

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alison Brown

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jams Roses

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt Coburn

  31. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Potocar

  32. 4 out of 5

    Sanchit Bhandari

  33. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  34. 4 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

  35. 5 out of 5

    Scott Saunders

  36. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Heinzman

  38. 5 out of 5

    Susan Jones

  39. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Williamson

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie Walker

  41. 4 out of 5

    Jean

  42. 4 out of 5

    Belynda Monckton

  43. 5 out of 5

    James

  44. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

  45. 4 out of 5

    Pen & Sword Books

  46. 5 out of 5

    Yurii

  47. 5 out of 5

    John Hanley

  48. 4 out of 5

    Karen Prince

  49. 4 out of 5

    Emma Morris

  50. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Turner

  51. 4 out of 5

    Elle

  52. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Golaszewski

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