Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Echoes of the Infantry - Frank Nappi
His eldest son, John has always had a turbulent relationship with his father. With the loss of his mother John and his two younger brothers start to clear out the family home with James moving in with the youngest brother.
In flashbacks for both James and John, the story of how their relationship fell apart is depicted. The horror of war playing constantly on the mind of James causes him to shun away from his family. John can't understand his father's surliness and moodiness yet is astounded to hear his laughter and the high praise from the nurses who observe James attending to his dying wife, Madeline.
After Madeline's death, John clears the attic. Among the old baseball glove, baby cot and Christmas lights are hidden memories that awaken a curiosity - who is James McCleary? How could mum defend him so many times? As John picks through the past what he eventually recovers may just mend a broken relationship.
Nappi's emotional roller-coaster of a story is filled with likable characters as well as striking descriptions of times in battle. The men of the 95th Infantry were a mixed bunch - the obnoxious Pearson, Azzaro who's apt at stirring things up and the laid back Hinson. The short chapters reveal their conversations and troubling interactions with the German army, a war torn land and socks!
As Nappi's first novel (first published in 2005, re-released for Kindle) this story was a scintillating start to his career as a novelist. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found myself absorbed by the narrative. It was a harrowing time for those involved and shows the impact war has on a family. It certainly would ring true even today. The author's descriptive prowess is excellent and captures a range of emotions that transcends to the reader. I would have liked the story to have continued a little after the ending chapter as I felt it ended a little abuptly but that's neither here or there, just a personal preference. A haunting, poignant tale and a highly recommended read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive review.