In May 1918, Lawrence Gilman reviewed The Return of the Soldier in The North American Review as "The Book of the Month". Amidst his commentary on the elusiveness of any information about West from her or her publisher, Lawrence gave the book praise calling it "an authentic masterpiece, a one act drama of with music". In his review, he praises her language and ability to depict a realist level detail. Additionally, he applauds West for treating a romantic subject without becoming sentimental.
Later literary critics often neglected The Return of the Soldier until the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. Earlier criticism was characterized by a negative response, often dismissing the novel on grounds of amateurishness of execution in both its style and use of thematic tools such as its use of Freudian psychoanalysis. The more recent critics have focused on the complexity of the novel expressing multiple different types themes, including feminist issues, the role of women in patriarchal society, war and trauma and masculinity and war.