The Single Soldier by George Costigan
Many will know George Costigan as the theatre, television and screen actor, best known for appearing in the successful hit TV dramas Rita, Sue and Bob Too as well as Happy Valley as well as many theatre productions. The Single Soldier is his debut novel set in France during the German occupation.
This is a story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it is big and the passion that runs through the heart of this incredible story-line. There is some much in The Single Solider that will stop you and make you think. Set in a village in South Western France tells the story of Jacques who has running the family farm on his own after his father was killed during WWI, it is also a story of Simone a young woman fleeing the onslaught of the German army and has found her way to the farm and has been taken in. She has endured a perilous journey and is lucky to be alive.
The war is raging around them and Jacques is trying to maintain the farm he has looked after single handed since he was thirteen. It is not long before war brings both Jacques and Simone together. As the months move on Simone gives birth to a baby boy but now German troops are looking seeking revenge for the activities of the French resistance fighters and it is now too dangerous for Simone and their son to remain on the farm. It is decided that they should leave to stay would put their lives in danger. Now the story become so heartbreaking as Jacques later finds out that Simone and his son have fled Europe. Jacques is now all alone, he cannot follow his family so he does what he has done nearly all his life and that is bury himself in his work on the land. This is the story of how one man moves his entire house via a cart pulled by a cow to rebuild his shattered life after hopes and dreams are destroyed. The war is over now peace returns to rural France but can one man ever again find similar peace.
This is simply an outstanding debut novel with so many vivid characters and the storytelling so lifelike that you feel part of the story and the lives the community during those war years. This is testimony to the sacrifice of those who endured and suffered the brutality of the German occupation and the tone is captured superbly.
The Single Soldier is beautifully presented by Urbane Publications and this is a book I highly recommend at over 500 pages it is by no means a quick read, but once you have started reading you will quickly come to realise this is a remarkable story.
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
The Single Soldier by George Costigan was published by Urbane Publications on 30th March and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.