Author: Sadie Jones
Published: Harper Perennial; Jan. 2011
Genre: Literary fiction; Historical fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Synopsis: A major in the British Army, Hal Treherne is a dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. He is eager to lead his men into combat; his wife Clara, however, is relieved when they are posted instead to seemingly peaceful sun-kissed Cyprus. But war erupts over unification with Greece, the island is consumed by violence - and Hal discovers that his military training cannot help him navigate the minefields of moral compromise that lie beneath every battle he fights. Clara grows fearful of her increasingly distant husband. When she needs him most, she finds the once-tender Hal a changed man - a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.
My Take: This is one of those novels that I've been wanting to read for quite some time. I'd seen it on some best of lists and something about it just spoke to me. It was about a part of history that I knew very little about and it just generally sounded powerful. What I didn't expect, was shortly after having read another deeply moving war novel, was just how much this novel would affect me. However, I do think I need to take a break for a bit from the war readings!
Regardless, this book was brilliant! The interplay between husband and wife, Hal and Clara was at times beautiful and then so sad. It really ran the gamut of emotions. Jones really takes you inside a marriage and shows you what kind of effect a moral crisis can have when you really don't feel you have any one to turn to.
See the thing is, at first it all seemed so wonderful in Cyprus. Hal and Clara had been stationed together before; he working as a soldier and she living on the base in their married quarters. This was in Germany after WWII and they felt safe. When things started to escalate during the skirmishes in Cyprus because Cyprus no longer wanted to be under British rule and instead wanted to reunite with the Greeks, Hal was transferred and soon his family followed, which now included two twin girls.
Clara and the twins weren't alone. There were quite a few other army wives and families here as well and at first things were happy. Hal would do his day job and come home and be happy families. Then Hal, as a major, started to become aware of things in the British army that he didn't have the stomach for. Not battles, he would have been fine with battles. Battles were expected of soldiers. No, I'm talking about degradation of other human beings and the army not doing anything about it. Cover ups. After it happened a couple of times, he grew distant from his wife. She was beautiful and innocent and he couldn't share these horrors with her. Martial strife began.
Then the unspeakable happened and the whole marriage, and the book really, flipped on its axis. What Hal did next, if I told you, would of course ruin the book for you, but it was really surprising and out of character and you just need to read the book because it was really good and if you don't this sentence will never end! Ok, there I said it.
Cover Lust: This is one of those covers that would absolutely make me pick up a book! It's like Mad Men with barbed wire. I know that sounds kind of dirty but go with it. I love it!
For other opinions about this book, here's the full TLC Book Tour Schedule:
Tuesday, January 18th: nomadreader
Monday, January 24th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Tuesday, January 25th: Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, January 25th: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, January 26th: Rundpinne
Thursday, January 27th: In the Next Room
Monday, January 31st: Reviews from the Heart
Tuesday, February 1st: Amused By Books
Wednesday, February 9th: The Book Faery Reviews
Thursday, February 10th: Caribousmom
Friday, February 11th: BookNAround
Wednesday, February 16th: Chefdruck Musings