The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (March 10, 2015)
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
April 1919. Six months have passed since the armistice that ended the Great War. But new battles face those who have survived.
Only twenty-three, former soldier Riley Purefoy and his bride, Nadine Waveney, have their whole lives ahead of them. But Riley's injuries from the war have created awkward tensions between the couple, damage that threatens to shatter their marriage before it has truly begun.
Peter and Julia Locke are facing their own trauma. Peter has become a recluse, losing himself in drink to forget the horrors of the war. Desperate to reach her husband, Julia tries to soothe his bitterness, but their future together is uncertain.
Drawn together in the aftermath of the war, the two couples' lives become more tightly intertwined, haunted by loss, guilt, and dark memories, contending with uncertainty, anger, and pain. Is love strong enough to help them all move forward?
The Heroes' Welcome is a powerful and intimate novel, chronicling the quiet turbulence of 1919?a year of perilous beginnings, disturbing realities, and glimmerings of hope.
When I agreed to read and review The Heroes' Welcome, I didn't know that it was the second book in a proposed trilogy, however, I was still able to enjoy the book without feeling that I was missing too much. There were a few references to past events that made me curious, but I didn't feel that it detracted from the current story.
I thought that The Heroes' Welcome was beautifully written and I was immediately caught up in the lives of Riley and Nadine, Peter and Julia and Rose. Each character has their own problems facing them after the war and each handles them differently. Although Riley is the most physically damaged from the war, he seems to be better able to cope with the haunting memories, the nightmares and the way people look at him with his damaged face. Despite the obstacles, he seems determined to live his own life. Fortunately for him, Riley has Nadine to walk beside him on this difficult road to recovery and a new life. Nadine and Riley have to deal with their own hesitancy within their relationship, but they are strong and devoted to each other.
Julia and Peter are the real heartbreaking couple in the novel. Peter isn't severely damaged physically, but his emotional wounds are formidable. He doesn't know how to cope with his own pain, so he certainly isn't equipped to help his wife, Julia. Poor Julia seems so fragile and very wounded. She seems very unsure of her place in the world and in her marriage.
I think one of the things that really struck me about the novel was the way Young was able to describe the delicate and fragile nature of these relationships and yet the bonds of friendship, shared experiences and love were able to prevail, for the most part.
I think that The Heroes' Welcome does an admirable job of portraying one of the most difficult times in our modern history. I did appreciate that the author didn't try to wrap everything up with a nice pretty bow -- that would seen completely unrealistic. Things are messy and uncomfortable - which is to be expected in such circumstances. Even though the book is heartbreaking in many ways, I found it quite beautiful as well. I can enthusiastically recommend The Heroes' Welcome to those readers who enjoy more serious historical fiction, those interested in World War I and its aftermath and those who enjoy books about relationships.
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Louisa’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, March 10th: Tina Says …
Wednesday, March 11th: Giraffe Days
Thursday, March 12th: Open Book Society
Monday, March 16th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, March 17th: Read Her Like an Open Book
Wednesday, March 18th: A Book Geek
Thursday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, March 23rd: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, March 24th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, March 25th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Monday, March 30th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Review