10 books like The Return of the Soldier

By Rebecca West,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Return of the Soldier. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Testament of Youth

By Vera Brittain,

Book cover of Testament of Youth

I first began reading this just as background research, in an attempt to get the character ‘voice’ right for my own WW1 series, but, as with many other books I was pulled in against my expectations. Vera’s decision to become a VAD nurse, and her determination to do the best possible job under unthinkable circumstances, made me want to learn everything about this era and the people who lived it. It threw a cold light onto what had, until then, been a sort of fuzzy half-knowledge, and it’s an example of the best in humanity, wrapped in what could easily be an extravagant fiction; knowing it was an autobiographical account made it so much poignant. It shows how powerful the drive to help others can be, despite the hardships endured. 

Testament of Youth

By Vera Brittain,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Testament of Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An autobiographical account of a young nurse's involvement in World War I.


In the Mountains

By Elizabeth von Arnim,

Book cover of In the Mountains

Immediately after the war, a bereaved woman returns alone to her family’s summer home in the Swiss Alps. It is a beautiful place, but she’s terrified of the memories it stirs, and haunted by the ghosts of those she’s lost. When a couple of lost English widows happen upon her house, she seizes eagerly on their company and the distraction they provide. She invites them to stay, and quickly forms an intense and rather desperate attachment to them. This novel gives a fine evocation of a time when so many felt displaced, when it was as if the tectonic plates of civilised existence had shifted the safe ground from beneath their feet. We see the journey of (eventually) a quartet of bereaved and war-shattered people towards a sort of healing, wholeness, and peace – as well as a new tolerance towards the differences of others.

In the Mountains

By Elizabeth von Arnim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Mountains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Mountains is a book by Elizabeth von Arnim. An English woman eludes confusing personal troubles in London and seeks shelter at her lodge amongst the Swiss Alps.


The Great Silence

By Juliet Nicolson,

Book cover of The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age

Enormously useful to me while researching for Blasted Things, was The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War. Taking us through chapters entitled feelingly with nouns: from Wound and Shock, through Resignation, and finally to Hope, Trust and Acceptance, Nicolson provides a chronological account of the period between the 1918 Armistice and the burial of the Unknown Soldier in 1920. It’s addictively readable, the history enriched by the recounted experiences of ordinary people from all walks of life, giving a rounded sense of the time, filled with detail about culture, music, the movies, fashion, class and so much more. This book provides a marvellously concrete and detailed account of the sensibility of a short and fascinatingly complex period.

The Great Silence

By Juliet Nicolson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Armistice Day 1918 dawns with great joy for victorious Britain, but the nation must confront the carnage war has left in its wake. In The Great Silence, Juliet Nicolson looks through the prism of daily life to narrate the rich but unknown history of the slow healing Britain undergoes in the two years following that day.

The two-year anniversary of the Armistice brings some closure at last: the remains of a nameless soldier, dug up from a French battlefield and escorted to London in a homecoming befitting a king, are laid to rest in glory in the Tomb of the…


Antic Hay

By Aldous Huxley,

Book cover of Antic Hay

Set in London in the early 1920s, Huxley’s Antic Hay follows a cast of young bohemian and artistic characters, all affected in various ways by the Great War, as they search for SOMETHING to give meaning to their lives. London has changed, the world has changed, and they are lost. Cripplingly shy Theodore Gumbril, the main character, (inventor of Gumbril's Patent Small-Clothes, trousers which contain an inflatable cushion in the seat) searches for love, and meaning, in the shattered society following the end of the war. His search for love – including the donning of a false, confidence-boosting beard, makes for an absurd kind of comedy. Antic Hay is a savage satire, a switchback of emotions, swooping between humour and despair – though the slight plot does sometimes get rather side-lined by intellectual discussions and I admit to skipping the odd page. However, it gives an excellent flavour of the…

Antic Hay

By Aldous Huxley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Antic Hay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The War Come Home

By Deborah Cohen,

Book cover of The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939

The aftermath of the Great War for wounded and shattered soldiers is carefully examined in this comparative study of two belligerent nations. The great paradox recorded here is how British veterans struggled on the margins of their society, denied legal rights and employment support, while, through state programs, German disabled veterans were more likely reintegrated into their economy. “Disabled veterans,” Cohen concludes in this fascinating study, “were the Great War’s conspicuous legacy.” Tragically, the same might be said of subsequent major armed conflicts. What I got from this book is the absolute importance of decisions following the Great War in shaping the indifference and support toward veterans over the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.  

The War Come Home

By Deborah Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War Come Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Disabled veterans were the First World War's most conspicuous legacy. Nearly eight million men in Europe returned from the First World War permanently disabled by injury or disease. In The War Come Home, Deborah Cohen offers a comparative analysis of the very different ways in which two belligerent nations--Germany and Britain--cared for their disabled. At the heart of this book is an apparent paradox. Although postwar Germany provided its disabled veterans with generous benefits, they came to despise the state that favored them. Disabled men proved susceptible to the Nazi cause. By contrast, British ex-servicemen remained loyal subjects, though they…


Battle Scars

By Jason Fox,

Book cover of Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows

Another story about a mind broken by war. Jason Fox is former Special Forces, and it shows. Exploring the effects of war on the mind of a soldier who is trained to abhor weakness in all its forms is deeply moving. Also, reading about man’s life descending into chaos when it’s been so ordered is tough. The effect on family and friends, work colleagues. Again, not an easy read, because this is real life folks, but well worth the effort. It’s also very interesting to read about the conflicts from a warrior’s point of view.

Battle Scars

By Jason Fox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle Scars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

___________

THE EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER.

'The most important book you'll ever read... Battle Scars will save lives.' TOM MARCUS, author of SOLDIER SPY

Battle Scars tells the story of Jason Fox's career as an elite operator, from the gunfights, hostage rescues, daring escapes and heroic endeavours that defined his service, to a very different kind of battle that awaited him at home.

After more than two decades of active duty, Foxy was diagnosed with complex PTSD, forcing him to leave the military brotherhood and confront the hard reality of what follows. What happens when you become your own enemy?…


A God in Ruins

By Kate Atkinson,

Book cover of A God in Ruins

This book haunted me long after I’d finished. Telling the story of an English bomber pilot in World War Two—an ordinary hero—and his endearing eccentric family, A God In Ruins ponders the brutality of fate. The narrative is woven through different timeframes, plunging us into the real human experience and the unbearable moral question of carrying out acts of war. The novel made me question my concept of reality, of memory, and of choosing a path in life. Have you ever wondered if your own parallel universe is unspooling simultaneously as another lifetime?  

A God in Ruins

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A God in Ruins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 COSTA NOVEL AWARD
A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd - would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather - as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war - that great fall of Man from grace - and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on…


The Professor and the Madman

By Simon Winchester,

Book cover of The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary is the greatest of all dictionaries, and, as it turns out, a large percentage of its original entries were composed by a murderer living in an asylum for the criminally insane. It is an extraordinary story, and one that could easily become sensationalist or maudlin; this one never does. Relatively slim and entirely accessible, the book wears its erudition lightly; Simon Winchester narrates with seemingly effortless scholarship and a distinctly English offhand charm, deftly balancing tones that run the gamut from dark to winsome. The Professor and the Madman is a paean to the majesty of the English language, and a testament that invaluable learning can be pursued even by the most unexpected individuals, even in the most forbidding places.

The Professor and the Madman

By Simon Winchester,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Professor and the Madman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book  

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary—and literary history.

The making of the OED was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, was stunned to discover that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. But their surprise would pale in comparison to what they were about to discover when the committee insisted on…


A Test of Wills

By Charles Todd,

Book cover of A Test of Wills: The First Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery

I chose this series, not because of the fun crimes Scotland Yard Inspector Rutledge solves, but because he is a soldier from WWI who battles PTSD. He experiences some of the symptoms other soldiers had, or have, following a traumatic war experience. His dead corporal constantly pesters him throughout the series by being a voice in his head. Additionally, after his fiancée leaves him following the war, he has intimacy issues and cannot express his feelings for the woman he loves. To cope with his sleeplessness and PTSD, he immerses himself in the cases he’s assigned. This series, in part, inspired my book. 

A Test of Wills

By Charles Todd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Test of Wills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspector Rutledge left a brilliant career in Scotland Yard to fight in the Great War. It is now 1919, shell shocked and trying to salvage his sanity and fight off the colleagues jealous of his prewar successes he is drawn into the investigation of the murdered Colonel Harris, in a small Warwickshire village. A debut novel.


Slippery Creatures

By KJ Charles,

Book cover of Slippery Creatures

I actually found this series through Tiktok and immediately fell in love with it. Slippery Creatures is the first in the series and it sets up the tenuous relationship between Wil Darling and Kim Secretan. After the Great War, Will inherits his uncle’s bookshop, and the attention of a criminal gang and the War Office. Both demand information Will has never heard of before. Will then meets Kim, who seems sociable and helpful, but there is more to Secretan than meets the eye. As the series continues the relationship between Will and Kim grows as they battle gangs and Kim’s own family. This series is quirky and fun and I just adore it. Will and Kim’s character arcs are beautifully paced and satisfying. I highly recommend this series.       

Slippery Creatures

By KJ Charles,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Slippery Creatures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing...until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else. Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger. And then…


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