I meant to fit a re-read of this one into the Festive Tasks last year but got sidetracked by something, but with Remembrance Day coming up this seemed like good timing.
I'll try to write a proper review of this tomorrow, but The Road Back is still the most heartbreaking and powerful novel about WWI, even more so, imo, than it's prequel, All Quiet on the Western Front.
“There will always be such people,” answers Willy, unusually earnest and thoughtful, “but don’t forget us; we are here too. And there’s a lot of people think as we do. Most of them, probably. Ever since then—you know, since Ludwig and Albert—all sorts of things have been going around in my head, and I’ve come to the conclusion that everybody can do something in his own way, even though he may have nothing but a turnip for a head. My holidays are over next week, and I’ll have to go back to the village as a schoolteacher again. And, you know, I’m positively glad of it. I mean to teach my youngsters what their Fatherland really is. Their homeland, that is, not a political party. Their homeland is trees, fields, earth, none of your fulsome catchwords. I’ve considered it all on and off a long time, and I’ve decided that we’re old enough now to do some sort of a job. And that’s mine. It’s not big, I admit. But sufficient for me—and I’m no Goethe, of course.”
I nod and look at him a long while. Then we set off.