One title on his list:
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (Century, 1918).Read about the other four titles on Mendelson's list.
This brief and devastating novel explores the conflict between marital duty and romantic love but is startlingly different from the many hundreds of other novels on the same theme. Chris Baldry, a British officer in World War I, is sent home from the battlefield after suffering a psychological wound that has erased his memory of the past 15 years. He is puzzled by the expensive-looking stranger named Kitty who explains that he is married to her, and he longs for Margaret, an innkeeper's daughter whom Kitty had never heard of until now. For Chris, the sober reality of marriage (his and Kitty's only child died young) is an illusion, and the bright illusion of romance is a reality. Rebecca West's first novel is a masterpiece of surprise and inevitability, with an ending that evokes intense and unresolvable feelings.