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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
War can wreak havoc on the minds and souls of those fighting it. Victory is difficult to define and the grey area between heroics and mere survival is nondescript. When one World War I soldier, a cellist, throws away his rifle in frustration at the unfairness of the dire situations around him, he’s threatened with court-martial. He walks away, alone, soothed only by thinking about his cello and imagining he’s playing it. The injustices of a world torn apart can only be soothed by the deeply melodic, sonorous tone of one soldier’s cello.
In Robert J. Fanshawe’s novel, A Cellist Soldier, the main character is a passionate musician in his ‘real’ life: a cellist. It’s the power of his music that carries him through his troubled journey. The author’s ability to describe a scene is incredible, making the reader a vital, active part of the story. The underlying themes of injustice in war and what it does to our fighting men and women are dramatically outlined through conflicting emotions of bravery, guilt, and cowardice. The dialogue is well constructed and helps move the story along. The plot is a powerful journey of self-discovery as the cellist soldier wanders the wastelands, not only physically, but also psychologically, as he seeks meaning not just in his life, but in life in general. The madness of war and the outright injustices are cleverly and astutely presented in this thrillingly climactic literary masterpiece. Very thought-provoking.