'I Shall Not Be Away Long'
'This is not only a beautiful-looking book, generously and wonderfully illustrated, it is also a remarkable human document, as rich in detail and commentary on the human condition as a long novel. Tens of thousands of books have been written about the First World War and who would have thought that, over a hundred years since it ended, there was anything more to say. But ‘I Shall Not Be Away Long’ fully earns its place in the Pantheon of literature about the Great War. We come away from it amused, moved, informed, baffled, shocked, saddened and, with a bit of luck, wiser. It is a classic of its kind.'
PUBLICATION: I am currently working out the details with my printer. Please join my mailing list to be kept informed of when it will be available.
Lt Col Charles Bartlett was a larger-than-life and slightly roguish infantry officer who served on the Western Front from August 1915 to March 1917. Not only are his letters almost completely uncensored and full of incident described with directness and bluff humour, but the people he mentions along the way give a full spectrum of supporting characters, from his actress wife and their friends on the West End stage, to soldiers noted for their heroism or eccentricity or insubordination or complicated love lives (or combinations of all of these), to men avoiding conscription, to spies, royalty and a newspaper magnate. The letters give a portrait of a man, a marriage, and a time of traumatic uncertainty. Charles Bartlett is not an exemplary hero, but his flaws make him all the more human as he struggles through leading his Battalion at the Battles of Loos and the Somme and the frights and labours of life on the Western Front.
I have presented the letters so that you see the originals and have a chance of feeling you’ve just opened them yourself. Insights and atmosphere come through pictures and details of the events, objects, people and places that Charles Bartlett encounters along the way, and behind it all has been the aim of giving voice to the variety of war experiences as well as showing how families dealt with their losses and what the survivors did with the rest of their lives.
This book is designed to be read alongside my first book ‘A Group Photograph – Before, Now & In-Between’. As well as having many characters in common, both books explore the same ideas of what it is like to be a human being in any time, how our beliefs and hopes compare to reality, and what remains of us after we are gone.
‘Compelling reading’ ‘Absolutely intriguing’ ‘Of human interest that we can all relate to as all our lives are more complex and nuanced than they might seem at first glance’
‘The book is beautifully illustrated and the depth of research is most impressive’
‘The achievement of it, the depth, breadth, humanity, suspense (what on earth was Charles going to be up to next?), the 300-strong cast, the meticulousness, brilliant structure and design... It is a more than worthy sequel to ‘A Group Photograph’ and the two fit beautifully, seamlessly, together’
Patrick Miles, author of
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464 pages, printed on quality paper in full-colour with a fully-sewn binding, 21 x 26.2 x 2.6 cm