THE HERO by Derek Monsey


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For eight months since his escape from an Italian prisoner of war camp, the young English lieutenant has been hiding in the hills near Monte Cassino dependent on the frightened, avaricious local peasantry for food, shelter and security. In addition to the dangers inherent in his situation, he is tormented by his own doubts and in particular his fears about crossing a minefield--the only way to rejoin the British Army, a course of action which in spite of ingenious rationalization he recognizes to be his duty as a soldier. Sickness, terror, hunger, and self-loathing are his lot, relieved only by his love for an Italian girl who at first betrays and then rescues him. The allied invasion saves his quite worthless life and kills the girl. At the novel's end the lieutenant grimly looks forward to the welcome he will receive at home--a hero's welcome for a poor soldier and a poorer man. The unsparing light thrown on the hero's feelings and failings serve very well to point up his character and also, unfortunately, to make him so unsympathetic that the reader tires of him early in the book. A novel devoted in great part to the soul searching of a man who has little depth of mind and heart does not make rewarding reading.

Publisher: Knopf