Silence in the Desert by David Longridge

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Silence in the Desert by David Longridge

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: With the backdrop of the Second World War, people are forever changed by both their decisions and the events around them. Love, death and friendship form the core of this strong read that explores lesser known events of WWII with a clearly impressively researched level of detail.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: November 2017
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1788034500

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As the shadow of the Second World War descends upon the planet, four people are explored in a tale of love and friendship. Henri, fulfilling a family tradition in joining the Foreign Legion, Bill, arriving at Cambridge on an RAF scholarship, Leo, struggling to align his beliefs with those of his upbringing, and Elisabeth, crossing continents and changing names are all brought together by strife and turmoil. As the war rages, these men are tested like never before, with trust, loyalty and love leading to decisions that affect both their lives and those all around them.

David Longridge has lived in France and Germany, run a large American Company, worked in the City of London, and now works from his home in Wiltshire. His partcular interest is in those people who, whilst out of sight and rarely remembered, played an important part in the 'Time of War'. He's previously explored this in his first novel 'In Youth, In Fear, In War', and continues this theme in 'Silence in the Desert'.

In truth, Longridge does more than shed light on lesser known war heroes, but also really expanded my knowledge when it came to essential battles and moments in the Second World War. My knowledge of WWII is really rather Euro-centric - so Longridge's exploration of the North African Campaign made for fascinating reading, and is part of global reach of his characters that allows Longridge to take the reader on a journey to various dangerous destinations - and that combined with the short, well crafted chapters and swift plotting ensures that this is a swift and thrilling read.

The characters themselves are well defined and likeable, Henri in particular standing out to me as a complex and well drawn creation, and Elisabeth's uncertainty and doubt regarding both her identity and her family ring true and add some much-needed emotional complexity. Longridge has clearly done his research, as the book is packed with military terms and language that certainly add to the realism of the pace - although when used in dialogue can slow the flow of the prose a little. The dialogue also feels a little bit functional at times, with entire pages of dialogue offering little insight into a character's motivations.

However, overall this is a very enjoyable read - well researched, carefully crafted, and immediately evocative of a dark and dangerous time in history. Longridge describes the turbulence of youth and amplifies that with the threat of war, destruction and death - it's skilfully done and I look forward to what he does next. Many thanks for the copy, and for further reading I recommend Regeneration by Pat Barker - a remarkable book that explores the consequences of the war and its all too high human cost.

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