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Love and the Loveless (1958) was the seventh entry in Henry Williamson’s fifteen-volume A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight spanning the years from the late Victorian period to the Second World War. The year covered by this novel, 1917, was perhaps the darkest of the Great War, with widespread mutinies in the French Army after the disastrous Nivelle offensive. Phillip Maddison is now a young transport officer, tending pack animals, surviving amid devastation and death. His courage, sustained by poetry, by comradeship, by the comfort of whisky and water, is perhaps unnatural; but amid the charnel house of battle he endures, in a way of life so alien to those at home that it might be the dark side of the moon.
‘Williamson’s style is romantic, though rarely sentimental, and his sensuous response to nature is fresh and surprising.’ Anthony Burgess, Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939
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