#Blogtour When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott #CarolineScott @simonschusterUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours #WhenIComeHomeAgain

When I Come Home Again
When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott Simon Schuster October 29th 2020

The Blurb

They need him to remember. He wants to forget.

1918. In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.
 
The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.
 
When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?

My Review

If you loved Caroline Scott’s first novel, The Photographer of the Lost, you are going to love When I Come Home Again even more. For me, Scott took the themes of World War I and its aftermath to another level, one where the layers were deep and complex and utterly fascinating.

The novel revolved around a young man found in Durham Cathedral named Adam by those who found him, a man whose memory appeared locked away, buried deep, seemingly never to materialise. Whisked away to Fellside, a gothic mansion converted to a treatment centre in the Lake District by Dr James Haworth, Adam was the cog from which spokes sprang and lengthened.

Haworth’s attempts to unlock Adam’s memory were frustrating but only to him, I didn’t feel that frustration, I just felt huge sorrow for a man who must have suffered such horrific trauma that parts of his brain shut down and refused to re engage.

Yet Scott didn’t merely concentrate on Adam, as Haworth himself suffered from his own war time experiences, the loss of his brother in law, the guilt he felt, the effect it had on his relationship with his wife. You read as his own mind spiraled and his obsession with Adam intensified as three women emerged all with claims that Adam was theirs.

And this was where Scott made it even more fascinating, how on earth would Adam and Haworth work out just who he belonged to? What of the women themselves, Celia, convinced it was her missing son, Lucy supposed sister and Anne desperate for the return of her husband. Scott gave Adam each of the traits the women knew existed, the sketching, the love of the land, the physical similarities but was that enough?

Scott explored each of the women and you sensed their desperation, the need for Adam to fit, to fill that empty void and give them closure on their search for their missing loved one. But what of Adam, where were his feelings in all of this? Scott left us in no doubt that this was a man who felt stifled, cornered, the pressure relentless and I did wonder how much he did know and felt but was unable to say.

I found myself questioning each woman, even Haworth, and Adam, and I wasn’t entirely sure where Scott was taking me. All I knew was that there was a piece of the jigsaw missing, the one that was destined never to be found.

When Scott arrived at her conclusion, it was dramatic, shocking and not at all what I was expecting but it had glimmers of hope, of finality and a future that may just have been better than their present.

Scott may have written a wonderful emotive story but you couldn’t forget that what she had actually written probably happened thousands of times over to the many men who survived World War I. I admired Scott’s amazing skill in handling such difficult material, to brilliantly enter the minds of Adam and James and of the three women. She didn’t bore us with medical terminology but used her narrative to turn it into a uniquely dark human experience, one that will stay with you long after the closing of the novels final page.

I would like to thank Simon Schuster for a copy When I Come Home 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 Scott
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She has a particular interest in the experience of women during the First World War, in the challenges faced by the returning soldier, and in the development of tourism and pilgrimage in the former conflict zones. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in south-west France.

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