Why did I love this book?
This first of Sassoon’s semi-biographical Sherston trilogy is a nostalgic amble along Edwardian English lanes, across its village greens, and over its hedges, tracing the early years of likeable, witty George Sherston before the Great War. It depicts a bygone era of pearl-clutching maiden aunts, rumbustious village cricket matches, and the rigours of the hunting field, in which enthusiastic recruit George is a terrific observer of the larger-than-life characters he encounters. He is winningly grateful to his horses for being so much better at it than him, from flighty first pony Sheila to trusty hunter Harkaway, and ‘bargain’ point-to-pointer Cockbird who is gifted to the cavalry at the book’s close, just as George accepts his commission to the Flintshire Fusiliers to fight in the Great War, saying farewell to his halcyon childhood. Sassoon, famous for his war poetry, is such a warm and intelligent writer that his affection for characters – both human and animal – is timeless.