Mary Irvine’s Blog: Review – The Way Home by Robin Scott-Elliot
The Way Home by Robin Scott Elliot
‘The Way Home is a novel based on the true, tragic story of one family’s destruction…’
The sun glistened on the Clyde as Gertie watched the postman walking down the street, coming ever closer to her parents’ house in Cardross where she was staying whilst her husband, Bertie, was away in France. She knew the relief the occupants of homes he passed would feel as he didn’t stop at their house to deliver the telegram they all dreaded. Her heart sank as the postman opened the garden gate and walked slowly up the path leading to her parents’ front door.
The telegram read: ‘Deeply regret Lt. Col W H Anderson Highland Light Infantry k.i.a. March 25th. The Army Council express their sympathy.’
He was posthumously awarded the V.C.
It was an event oft repeated and many stories of the First World War have been told. This one is somewhat different for it is a fictionalised telling of the story of four brothers who went to war. One of them was the great-grandfather of the author. The family lived in the West End of Glasgow (14, Lansdowne Crescent) and were reasonably well off. They possessed a sense of duty and loyalty common in their class at that time. The four brothers thought it their duty to ‘go’, especially altogether. None came back.
The book is written mostly in an epistolary style with letters exchanged amongst the brothers, with passages from their mother’s journal and excerpts from newspaper reports. It evokes the language and ambience of the time perfectly. Although fictionalised the characters do emerge as individuals, as indeed they were. It is a very ‘easy’ read although it is harrowing at times. The letters tell us much of the trenches whilst the journal speaks volumes of life at home.
Robin Scott Elliot, who lives in the West of Scotland, is the descendent of Bertie. He gave up a successful career in sports’ journalism, and now writes historical fiction for children. I am presently reading his first book ‘The Tzar’s Curious Runaways’ and hope to have completed ‘The Acrobats of Agra’ before welcoming Robin to:
‘An Evening with…’ at the Helensburgh Library, 59 W King St, Helensburgh G84 8EB on Thursday, August 18th 2022 at 7 p.m.
Robin will be talking about these books as well as his latest book ‘Hide and Seek’.
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