Susan Hill's classic novel Strange Meeting tells of the power of love amidst atrocities. 'He was afraid to go to sleep. For three weeks, he had been afraid of going to sleep . . .' Young officer John Hilliard returns to his battalion in France following a period of sick leave in England. Despite having trouble adjusting to all the new faces, the stiff and reserved Hilliard forms a friendship with David Barton, an open and cheerful new recruit who has still to be bloodied in battle. As the pair approach the front line, to the proximity of death and destruction, their strange friendship deepens. But each knows that soon they will be separated . . . 'A remarkable feat of imaginative and descriptive writing' The Times 'The feeling of men under appalling stress at a particular moment in history is communicated with almost uncanny power' Sunday Times 'Truly Astonishing' Daily Telegraph Susan Hill's novels include I'm the King of the Castle and Mrs de Winter, a sequel to Du Maurier's Rebecca. She is also well known for her children's books (including Can It Be True?, which won the Smarties Prize). She has written non-fiction and autobiography and is a regular broadcaster and reviewer. She is married to the Shakespeare scholar Stanely Wells, and they live in a Gloucestershire village from which she runs a small publishing company called Long Barn Books. You can see her website at www.susan-hill.com.
This is a curious book for this day and age - almost a period piece, and a curious book fora woman to have written in any day and age - a very self-contained and self-restrained account of World War I over there profiled with something of the lean nobility of say Brooke or Sassoon. After a slight wound John Hilliard, an infantry lieutenant, has a home leave only to find that he is now totally uncommunicative in the world he left behind (an elegant mother, a sister on whom he was too dependent who is now about to marry). He goes back to the front and what is left - very little - of his old company and a young man Barton, as yet untouched by any actual war experience, whose open confidence he returns with a first and absolute love. But as the weeks pass Barton too is tarnished by the guilt, fear and failure which rub off on him under these circumstances as each man's death diminishes him and he goes inevitably to his own rendezvous while Hilliard in the bleak prescience of what will happen, just survives - losing a leg. . . . Miss Hill writes with a meticulous, quiet, almost letter-perfect exactitude which corroborates rather than encroaches, most understandable under the circumstances - there is that interval in time as well as Hilliard's gloved reserve. (Kirkus Reviews)