Bodies of Men by Nigel Featherstone
We all know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but how often do we find ourselves doing exactly that? When I first saw Bodies of Men, I thought it looked like a blokey war story, which is not something I would usually be interested in. I assumed it was going to be full of bloody battles and heroic deeds. However, our head book buyer, Alison, convinced me that I’d been too hasty in dismissing it and, on her advice, I read it. Now, here I am, writing a review. Sometimes you just need a good bookseller to point you in the right direction, even when that direction might initially seem like a book that is ‘not for you’!
In Bodies of Men, William and James meet as young boys and, despite coming from completely different backgrounds and seeing each other only a handful of times, they form a strong bond of friendship – a friendship William’s father goes to some lengths to destroy. Years later, having both joined up to the army, the two catch sight of each other during a skirmish in the western desert of Egypt. William later discovers James recuperating from a motorbike accident in the home of a family in Alexandria. The friendship between the two soon blossoms into something much deeper. As the story unfolds many secrets from the past rise to the surface. These secrets are not only those of James and William’s families, but also those of the family harbouring James.
While the novel is mostly set during World War II, the war is simply a backdrop for what is essentially a novel about relationships, not only between couples, but also between parents and their children. It is a beautifully written, tender love story – the perfect book to curl up with as autumn sets in.