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A Cellist Soldier by Robert J Fanshawe

A sensational and gripping story which has the bones of true events.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, June 10, 2020 / a new novel was released by Robert J Fanshawe.

"A Cellist Solder" this story has the power to captivate many different levels of readers and audiences. It has the warmth and personality of a true hero at heart, whose life hangs on a thread during events of World War One.

Robert Fanshawe has captured the detail and grit of war in a time capsule and delivered it in this book, with many unforgettable lines promising to excite the emotions of readers, for example; ‘How then can it be a glorious thing to go into battle? From somewhere inside, Cello [the nickname of the Cellist Soldier] held, as did all boys, a thought of the glories of war. What glories now? Where were the glories in front of him in this show?’

The book portrays characters shaped in strength and courage. The cellist soldier himself demonstrates the positive role of music in the mental and emotional turmoil that is war. The heart of the story is a wrongful accusation leading to a Court Martial trial which highlights the difference between blame and what is right.

How can justice turn its back on such a man and the real events?

The author brings this emotional melting pot to life in an amazing way. A way that reflects the justice that we all yearn for as part of rights of freedom, particularly in wartime.

This is a vivid journey with a flicker of hope at the end as the story leads into the next instalment of the trilogy.

A powerful read with Fanshawe taking us into a new level of human emotions found on the battlefield. A soldier’s heart and how on many levels it reacts to war, gives us greater understanding of how the human soul seeks survival. It mirrors the everyday fear of whole families being caught up in war as they still are in many places around the world. The author speaks from the heart in his writing which shows him as a master of story-telling.

This is only the start of the trilogy. It fits into the next book; The Cellist’s Friend. Which takes the story of the lives of these soldiers, their families and loved ones further. A twisting end of the trilogy will ensure their paths are forever entwined with each other and the values at our cultural hearts.

Robert J Fanshawe is an ex-British Royal Marines officer and the author of the World War One Novel The Cellist’s Friend (the first book in a planned trilogy) and All About the Boys a play whose publication in 2018 coincided with the centenary of the death of the play’s subject, the famous World War One poet, Wilfred Owen.

Robert was greatly influenced by Earnest Hemingway in his youth and Erich Maria Remarque, whose novel All Quiet on the Western Front encouraged Robert’s desire to write about the war; his profession, family and interests in literature, particularly the war’s poetry; further spurred him on.

Short Q and A:

1. Hi Robert, tell us what inspired you to write this story?

The inspiration for the story initially came a long time ago during my military service when I read All Quiet on the Western Front, one of the greatest war novels of all time. I also heard stories of relatives who had fought in the war including my uncle killed in 1917, the year the book is set. I decided that I wanted to write about the war but didn’t really get the opportunity until the war’s centenary 2014-18. The great poetry of the war which I enjoyed throughout my military career was also an artistic inspiration. I wanted something in addition to this though so I picked the cello as an instrument which expresses the emotions of war. A week after I started writing A Cellist Soldier, initially as a play, an actual cello that had been taken into war and played, was discovered in an attic in England.

The other inspiration was the feeling of injustice which was suffered by many of the men who were executed by the British during the war. One in particular, Sergeant John Thomas Wall, is a character in the book although his real story is not the same as depicted in the book.

2. How were you able to piece together the different fragments on the story?

The story developed from the play I wrote as A Cellist Soldier. This was my second play as I had already written one about the war. However, my goal had always been to write novels from when I first read All Quiet on the Western Front. So after writing the play I felt the need to continue by telling the story of the Cellist’s Friend who was so deeply affected by the injustice that had happened and his intense feeling of guilt at not revealing the real story of the cellist soldier. Putting this together highlighted the need for contact with family as this was so much part of World War One where the huge casualty lists brought focus on the additional suffering of the loved ones of those casualties including the cellist’s family as part of Ben’s reconciliation. Hence the love story that forms the heart of The Cellist’s Friend. Looking forward to the end of the trilogy I saw a need to bring the reconciliation of Ben to fruition in a way that will address the culture and values that led to the war in the first place.

3. The closure seeks a 2nd and a 3rd installation of the story, was this originally planned?

The second and third instalments were originally planned but the shape of them became clear as the story and its important elements developed.

4. Anything you want to say to your future readers?

I would say to readers and potential readers; don’t put this book and books firmly into a genre. Though set in wartime one hundred years ago and in that sense it is a historical novel; the themes of values, justice, holding onto love and healing guilt, are universal.

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