What could be more appropriate on Remembrance Day than to feature Robert Newcome’s The Name Beneath The Stone: Secret Of The Unknown Warrior? My grateful thanks to Aimee at Bookollective for inviting me to participate in this blog tour and for sending me a copy of The Name Beneath The Stone in return for an honest review. It is my pleasure to begin the tour.
Published by Unicorn on 23rd September 2019, The Name Beneath The Stone is available for purchase in all the usual places including here.
The Name Beneath The Stone
Three generations, one family, connected by an historic secret.
1917: Private Daniel Dawkins fights at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele. He writes home to his true-love Joyce, but reveals little of his extreme bravery, his kindness, his loyalty to his comrades and the horrors they experience on the Western Front.
1920: Captain Peter Harding is tasked with a secret mission to assist in the selection of a body dug up from the battlefields of Flanders to be buried in Westminster Abbey as the ‘Unknown Warrior’. Events take place on that expedition that come to haunt him for the rest of his life.
2011: Sarah Harding discovers Daniel’s letters and Peter’s diaries. Together with historian James Marchant she pieces together the hidden truth behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and must decide what to do with it. Values are challenged and characters are tested in this gripping novel which asks what if the identity of the Unknown Soldier was discovered – and should that secret ever be revealed?
My Review of The Name Beneath The Stone
The story of just who might be the Unknown Warrior.
In the interests of complete honesty, I have one very small criticism of The Name Beneath The Stone that I’m going to get out of the way before my review proper; whilst totally appropriate to the era and situations, I found too many expletives in the direct speech of those parts of the book set in 1917. This is purely my personal response and I’m sure others would not have the same opinion.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed (if that’s the correct word as as times it’s quite harrowing) reading The Name Beneath The Stone because it’s absolutely fascinating, totally authentic and very thought-provoking. I thought the three strands of the story were woven together by Robert Newcome with great skill so that I was completely convinced by all the action. The blending of fact and fiction makes for a compelling narrative that educates as well as entertains. The level of reality in the depiction of army life and the quality of research that has gone in to The Name Beneath The Stone is exemplary. I was also surprised by some of the elements in The Name Beneath The Stone, not all of which I can mention as they would spoil the story. However, one such example is the inclusion of original photographs, which serve to give credence to the plot and descriptions and enhance the impact of the book.
I found the characters had depth and realism, especially Daniel, and I often found the 1917 passages quite uncomfortable to read because Robert Newcome presents the locations and situations that Daniel finds himself in so convincingly that I could hardly bear what he had to endure. Indeed, I think The Name Beneath The Stone is a wonderful book in making sure we remember those who fought and died in WW1. It is by no means just an entertaining read, it is an important one too. The quality of description is frequently heart rending.
The themes of guilt, bravery, cowardice, relationships and duty that might be expected in a book like this, are presented so well in all three timescales that the significance of the Unknown Warrior resonates just as much now in The Name Beneath The Stone as it would have done in 1920. However, even more interesting for me was the sense of mystery and the process of historical research that forms the 2011 sections. I was so intrigued I had to keep looking things up to see if they were real or invented.
The Name Beneath The Stone is an absorbing narrative. With high quality research underpinning a mystery story as well being historically accurate and engrossing, Robert Newcome’s writing intrigues the reader and draws them in. I hadn’t expected a fresh approach to writing about WW1 but Robert Newcome has certainly managed it. I really recommend The Name Beneath The Stone as it’s a book I’ll be thinking about for a very long time.
About Robert Newcome
After five years serving as an officer in The Light Infantry, Robert studied Political Philosophy at Exeter University. Following this he had various management positions in the John Lewis Partnership, finally running management training. He then spent a number of years working for management consultants before setting up his own business with a colleague in 2007. Throughout this period he was writing articles, short stories and novels in his spare time.
Robert has just joined Twitter @NewcomeRobert.