Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne, reviewed by Tony Bradman
Bradman has a number of quibbles and reservations about John Boyne’s new First World War novel, but ends on a positive note.
Early on, we are told that Alfie had often heard Prime Minister Asquith’s name "on the wireless", which would have been difficult in 1914 as the BBC only started broadcasting in 1922. Some of the dialogue feels anachronistic: I don’t think anyone in 1918 would have said "a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do". That cliche – both the phrase and the hackneyed, John Wayne ideal of masculine courage it aims to encapsulate – came out of Hollywood in the 1950s.
And yet my final verdict is positive. Stay Where You Are and Then Leave has its faults, but ultimately it is a good, solid, engaging read that manages to avoid too much sentimentality. That won’t be true of many of the first world war books heading our way next year.