“All Else is Folly”
From The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). November 29th, 1929, page 8. No. 28,675.
A war book, or, to use its sub-title, a tale of war and passion, by Major Peregrine Ackland [sic]. Ford Madox Ford, who writes a preface, describes it as the convincing, mournful, and unrelieved account of a simple soul’s sufferings in the late war. Just one more book of the horror as told by a Canadian, the chapters about France, mud dangers and depression interspersed with incidents in England (soldiers on leave), typical, perhaps of many of the dominions’ citizends who served –scenes in which wearied humanity was prone to let itself go. The young officer stays at the country home of a recently made “witty English aristocrat” –the lady, and with her has an affaire. There are other women, too, and the story is written in the frank way we have been made somewhat accustomed to by many other novelists as descriptive of wartime in London.
It is a book full of the poignant emotions of a man who does his duty, worn, worried, and disgusted with the unutterable barbarity. The central figure, Falcon, goes through all the strident nightmare of abnormality, waiting and watching for the end, until when, stretched to the last fibre of his energy, he is put into the worst encounter of all, and comes out of it a wreck, his face torn and mangled, and returns to London to find the woman who remained longest in his thoughts as weary of it as himself. “Dreamers? They had both been dreamers.” And in the epilogue ten years after he looks from a gallery on a peace-time drill, hears the shrill summons of the pipes, sees the dark kilts swaying above naked knees, and the “war lust surges through him again, and with the skirling he would have signed away his liberty, his life, for another war.”
Admirably written, concise, strong, the painting done as with an impressionistic brush in firm, swift, vivid strokes. A notable book, and one feels on reading it that there has been enough war, and perhaps of the writings thereon as well. (Constable and Co., London’ Dymock’s, Sydney.)