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The Broken Chariot: A Novel

300 pages6 hours


This postwar British coming-of-age novel questions the foundations of society and self.
Class and identity are lifelong struggles for Herbert Thurgarton-Strang, who was born in India but sent away at age seven to a boarding school in England. As an adolescent, Herbert loathes British weather and boxing—despite his penchant for camping and his brutality in the ring—and his only solace is imagining a violent revenge on his parents for “abandoning” him. As Herbert grows into an angry teen and World War II breaks out, he channels his rage into a passion for the Army Cadet Force. Then a book about escaped prisoners of war falls into his lap, and Herbert begins to daydream about running away.
At the age of seventeen, the rebellious young man finally breaks free from school and heads straight into the industrial slums of Nottingham. There, Herbert discards his upper-class accent and reinvents himself as “Bert Gedling”—a working-class lathe man, a drinker, a womanizer, and eventually a soldier. During his tour of duty, Bert continues to adapt his character to the world around him, and when he returns to England he transforms once again—but this time the fictions he constructs will follow the truth of his heart.
From the bestselling author of The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, The Broken Chariot explores work, class, life, and love in postwar England.

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