January 8, 2016 by kitmoss
REVIEW: PROMISES MADE UNDER FIRE
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Lieutenant Tom Donald envies everything about fellow officer Frank Foden—his confidence, his easy manner with the men in the trenches, the affectionate letters from his wife. Frank shares these letters happily, drawing Tom into a vicarious friendship with a woman he’s never met. Although the bonds of friendship forged under fire are strong, Tom can’t be so open with Frank—he’s attracted to men and could never confess that to anyone.
When Frank is killed in no-man’s-land, he leaves behind a mysterious request for Tom: to deliver a sealed letter to a man named Palmer. Tom undertakes the commission while on leave—and discovers that almost everything he thought he knew about Frank is a lie…
REVIEW by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
You can guess that when Tom goes searching for his buddy Frank’s wife, he can’t find her, but when he finds the only other person Frank mentioned he discovers that—SPOILER—Frank had a secret he skillfully kept from everyone: he had a male lover. It appears in the story that he wanted Tom to find him and comfort each other’s loss.
This is a nice story with Cochrane’s skill in the storytelling, though I found myself wondering at how easily the two men thrown together after Frank’s death managed to forget their loss and make a new life together.
One aspect that doesn’t get any explanation is how the two men were going to manage to live openly together, assuming they did, in such a repressive time.