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An interesting, unusual, emotional novel which examines the after effects of the First World War. Four young people meet in Margate in 1920, Edward and William’s lives have been irreversibly altered by the horrors of the war, while Evelyn and Catherine are finding their wings. The book begins in 1940’s London, the scene is set so that it is abundantly clear what has happened to the main characters. I then stepped back in time to 1917 and 1920 to be introduced again, with the knowledge of what was to come still playing on my mind. I will admit that it took me a little while to settle in, Paul Marriner uses a lot of detailed description set the scene, I gradually found myself becoming fully immersed in the story as the characters entered my heart and soul. The knowledge of the future to come stayed with me, whispering, suggesting, not allowing me to settle. There is a painful certainty that travels through the novel, it doesn’t shy from uncomfortable or unsettling feelings, rather it embraces them, voices them, allows an almost visual understanding. ‘The Blue Bench’ reaches into the past, bringing thoughts and feelings within touching distance, and so gives a warning for our future.
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