Firstly, a procedural note.This book was recommended in a blog comment somewhere, I noted the book but not the source, so if the source drops in here I have to say many thanks.It was obvious I would fall for this cover.
Grey Souls by Philippe Claudel slotted nicely into the monochrome department and lived up to all melancholic monochromatic expectations.
It's an unusual book for many reasons not least that it's intrinsically a book about The Great War yet that is not the main thrust of the plot. It wasn't a fast read for me, some books just slow you down to a snail's pace and that's the only way to do them justice.The same thing is happening with Peter Hobbs The Short Day Dying. I'm reading that in the briefest of episodes and feeling sated with the language and the atmosphere, so much to think about after each read.Books to savour for the emotion and mood they engender as much as for the plot.
Grey Souls is set in a small town in Northern France in 1917 and within earshot of the carnage in the trenches.Yet life on the surface in this little town carries on much the same.The war remains the great unsaid, often alluded to and frequently evidenced in casualties arriving, thereby providing a very disturbing backdrop given what we know was going on out there.
But the war's pervasive influence is undeniable, the grimness and horror of what is happening beyond seeps like a dank mist into just about every page.You fully expect to see the pages start to curl up before your eyes.
Crimes are committed and resolved rather too hastily and twenty years later the main investigator returns to search out the truth.The pace slowly gathers until you reach the point of no return and have to sit and finish the book.
An excellent read and one to add with certainty to any list where you were in the mood to sense the atmosphere and impact of The Great War without being distracted by the horror of rats/trenches/gassing/ bodies/atrocities.
Read The Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden for that and much more.