The soldier returns from the front to the three women who love him. His wife, Kitty, with her cold, moonlight beauty, and his devoted cousin Jenny wait in their exquisite home on the crest of the Harrow-weald. Margaret Allington, his first and long-forgotten love, is nearby in the dreary suburb of Wealdstone. But the soldier is shell-shocked and can only remember the Margaret he loved fifteen years before, when he was a young man and she an inn-keeper's daughter. His cousin he remembers only as a childhood playmate; his wife he remembers not at all. The women have a choice - to leave him where he wishes to be, or to 'cure' him. It is Margaret who reveals a love so great that she can make the final sacrifice.
Books included in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
The Return of the Soldier is a profound, resonant book. It tells its moving story with emotional integrity, at the same time meditating upon the nature of love, the punishing but necessary cruelty of reality and our responsibility towards one another -- Sadie Jones Spellbinding . . . Probably her best fiction * Sunday Times * Rebecca West - highly intelligent, highly gifted, vital, original, combative, formidable and kind - was a great woman -- Victoria Glendinning When Chris Baldry returns from the trenches so badly traumatized that the last fifteen years of his life have been expunged from his memory, the three women who love him most are forced into a radical re-examination of their own past lives. Courageous and compassionate, The Return of the Soldier delineates the long-term consequences of war in ways that are as relevant today as they were in 1918 when the book first appeared. Ultimately - and without ever lapsing into easy sentiment - Rebecca West paints a portrait of the redeeming power of love -- Pat Barker
Rebecca West (1892-1983) was born Cicily Isabel Fairfield, taking her pen name from an Ibsen play. A feminist and social reformer, she was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1959. Her only son, Anthony West, is the son of author H.G. Wells.