Review: In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard

Posted May 2, 2014 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 2 Comments

Review: In Pale Battalions by Robert GoddardIn Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard
Published by Bantam on 1988
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 360
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Goodreads

Six months after her husband's sudden death, Leonora Galloway sets off for a holiday in Paris with her daughter Penelope. At last the time has come when secrets can be shared and explanations begin...

Their journey starts with an unscheduled stop at the imposing Thiepval Memorial to the dead of the Battle of the Somme near Amiens. Amongst those commemorated is Leonora's father. The date of his death is recorded and 30th April, 1916. But Leonora wasn't born until 14th March 1917.

Penelope at once supposes a simple wartime illegitimacy as the clue to her mother's unhappy childhood and the family's sundered connections with her aristocratic heritage, about which she has always known so little.

But nothing could have prepared her, or the reader, for the extraordinary story that is about to unfold.


Six months following her husband’s death, 70-year old Leonora Galloway takes her daughter, Penelope, on vacation to Paris but with a few unscheduled stops. The first is to Thievpal, site of the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme where her father, Captain John Hallows, perished in World War I. This begins Leonora’s tale of her life’s odyssey amidst her family’s secrets, shared with her daughter for the first time.


This is a tragic story told beautifully in an almost poetic style. The words matter here as they work to frame not only the events but capture the soul of each character. It didn’t take me long to become almost mesmerized by the writing, even when I felt repulsed by some of the actions. What’s brilliant, however, is how impossible it is to form lasting judgments about the characters (with a couple of exceptions) as they are just sometimes victims of circumstances, making choices that may appear unforgivable on the surface. It’s what lies beneath that’s not always evident or clear and I found my opinions shifting with each chapter.


Told from multiple points of view and in strong voices, the story was compelling and the characters layered. There are many twists and turns, even through the last page. I loved this book and my experience reading it. It’s my first by this writer and certainly not my last.




Jonetta + Cat

About Robert Goddard

In a writing career spanning more than twenty years, Robert Goddard’s novels have been described in many different ways – mystery, thriller, crime, even historical romance. He is the master of the plot twist, a compelling and engrossing storyteller and one of the best known advocates for the traditional virtues of pace, plot and narrative drive.

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I LOVE reading and am just crazy about so many series and writers. I’m open to exploring new authors and genres and appreciate those who not only write well but can deliciously craft a character and a tale. Your suggestions for new authors and titles are very much welcomed.

I also love to talk about books. There’s nothing more exciting than to finish a great story and cover it A to Z with other people, exploring different perspectives and points of view. So, if you see something on my shelf you’d like to talk about, send me a message and we’ll talk!

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2 responses to “Review: In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard

    • It’s a solid mystery (not really a thriller) but one that will hook you with each page. Yeah, the cover didn’t do it for me, either, and it took me almost two years to read it after my friend STRONGLY recommended the book:) He’s smirking now.