MONTY - Towards Alamein
Monty's victory at Alamein marked a crucial turning point in the war. This is the story of how a narrow-minded unpopular soldier became the hero who defeated Rommel in North Africa, loved by his troops and idolised in Britain.
It is a story of two crucial relationships - that with his wife, and that with Churchill. Monty's wife was a painter, who moved in bohemian circles totally foreign to him. Through her, he moved beyond his childhood as a rebellious and unloved child from a large family, whose mother beat and rejected him, as she rejected all the gifts he tried to win her with as an adult. His wife was warm and loving, and taught him about art and how to connect with people without irritating them too much. She shared his life for ten years, and then died of septicemia from an insect bite. Monty was desolate - but he had learnt to open himself to others, and became a leader his men could love and believe in.
The other crucial relationship was that with Churchill. Churchill couldn't stand Monty, who was totally tactless and could not be subservient when he felt he was in the right. But Monty needed to win Churchill over, before he could be in a position to lead the 8th army to victory. We see the slow growth of mutual trust, till Monty, who slept like a baby through bombardment and battle and never lost his calm, got Churchill, on the edge of a nervous breakdown, to relax in sun and sea, and lose himself in painting.
This is a well-researched story, based on a lot of factual information, but carried forward mainly by imagined conversation. The reader is present with what is happening, and invited to see it all as taking place in the now.
It wasn't long, after the war ended, that the generals involved in it started writing their memoirs - and the Goons started laughing at them. The prologue to this story shows Monty listening to a Goon Show mocking himself and other war-heroes. Monty hated losing his position of fame and glory, but he loved the Goons.
Published: 3 June 2016