Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Time It's Personal

Small Wars
Author: Sadie Jones

Format: Paperback
Published: Harper Perennial; Jan. 2011
Pages: 384
Genre: Literary fiction; Historical fiction
Rating: A
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


  1. I have never seen this book before, but I usually don't read books that are to involved in war situations. I am glad you enjoyed the book, but I will never know what changed him or why. Thanks for such a nice review of the book.

  2. You've convinced me that I need to give this one a try for sure!

  3. So happy to read this review and see that you enjoyed this one. I hope to read it sometime.

  4. I've checked this out TWICE at the library, only to return it TWICE without reading it...guess a third time is in order.

  5. I loved this one too! And I agree I need to lay off the war novels a bit too. In January I read this one, The Invisible Bridge, and The Lotus Eaters. Three different wars, but still so intense! I'm looking forward to The Outcast, her first novel, too.

  6. I love it when I have so much to say about a book that my sentences just run on and on - that's the mark of a really good book IMO!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I can't wait to read this one for myself.

  7. That great..huh, perhaps I will read it then. This is exactly the kind of book the library would buy in English

  8. I have this one on my wishlist, and I think it just moved up to the top. It sounds like a book I would love. Thanks for the great review!

  9. I thought the writing in this book was beautiful, but you're right...it was SO SAD. There were times when I didn't think it would be worth it to finish, though I am ultimately glad I did.

  10. surprisingly enough this is the first time i heard about the book and boy am i glad i did! the book sounds amazing and definitely sounds like something i would enjoy reading. i can definitely see how all these books about war can become an emotional drain though.

  11. Definitely want to read this one. I don't really read many war novel but this one sounds like one that is definitely worth picking up.

  12. I thought the author did a great job showing how war and corruption can take its toll on a person and their relationships. What Hal did may have been out of character on the outside, but if they had seen his internal struggle, it would have made more sense to them. Glad to see you liked it as much as I did.

  13. Great review :) I loved how the book had a bit of a twist at the end...my review posts tomorrow and I also gave it a great review...have you read her first book yet? It is also very good.

  14. I have heard so many positive things about this book. I'm not really in the place for war-time stories at the moment but I'll certainly keep it mind for the future. Great review.


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