The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott Simon Schuster UK October 31st 2019
1921. Families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors of the Great War have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He is considered ‘missing in action’, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph taken by Francis in the post, hope flares. And so she beings to search. Harry, Francis’s brother, fought alongside him. He too longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last things they ever said. Both brothers shared a love of photography and it is that which brings Harry back to the Western Front. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, as he travels through battle-scarred France gathering news for British wives and mothers,Harry also searches for evidence of his brother. And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to a
What do you do when the war is all over, when it’s four years later and a photograph of your missing in action husband drops into your letterbox one morning?
For Edie it was traumatic and set her off on a journey of discovery not only to find her husband but also the history of other soldiers so tragically lost in World War I.
For Francis’s brother Harry it was an opening of old wounds, of the battle scars and trauma of a war in the trenches.
What followed was a totally enthralling novel that perfectly captured the tumult of emotions felt by Edie and Harry as they searched cemeteries and French towns and villages in the vain hope of finding Francis.
I loved how Scott structured the novel, alternating between Edie and Harry. It gave Scott the opportunity to show their own unique perspectives, In Harry’s case it was often harrowing and one I was prepared for as Scott gave us a glimpse into the psychological impact the war had on Harry. What I was not prepared for was the visual intensity of Scott’s narrative. Her descriptions of the bombed out French villages was incredible and not something we often read about. The tumbled down churches, the houses with household objects still visible after three years was so vividly described. You admired the resilience of the inhabitants who returned to their homes determined to rebuild.
What made this novel stand out from all the others was it’s unique perspective of the aftermath, of the families who wanted photographs of the place their sons had fallen, had been buried. It was at times incredibly moving and poignant and something I had little knowledge of. It was absolutely fascinating and tugged at the heartstrings.
The Photographer Of The Lost was beautifully written, respectful and understated,
I would like to thank Simon Schuster for a copy of The Photographer Of The Lost to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France.