From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In her excellent second novel (after The Outcast
), Jones sets a couple down in turbulent 1956 Cyprus as the Cypriots seek union with Greece and resist British rule. British army major Hal Treherne is dispatched to Cyprus, taking along his wife, Clara, and their young twin girls. There, they fight separate, but equally maddening, battles—Clara as an army wife with babies in an increasingly dangerous land, and Hal on the front lines where, yearning for firefights, he is instead haunted by his lack of control when torture and rape occur at the hands of his own men. While Hal dodges mortal danger, Clara tries to keep the homefront together, struggling to remain supportive of him as she remains isolated with the twins and he is tormented by the violence he witnesses. After Clara narrowly avoids death, Hal makes a split-second decision with powerful implications for their future. The narrative is excruciatingly tense and also graced with real emotion as a marriage is pushed to the brink and loyalties are stretched and broken. It's the perfect mix of poignant and harrowing. (Jan.)
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Jones’ debut novel, The Outcast (2008), won the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain. In her sophomore effort, she deploys the same coolly dispassionate style in a novel about how the demands of war warp human emotions, both for the soldiers and the women who love them. Hal Treherne is a major in the British Army transferred to Cyprus in the 1950s, where he is joined by his wife, Clara, and their twin daughters. Although Hal is eager to enter the fray after years spent performing routine training exercises, he is unprepared for the moral quagmire that is Cyprus. In a war resonant of the current conflict in Afghanistan, homemade roadside bombs are the weapons of choice, and they are often planted by preteen boys. Torturous interrogation methods, brutal retaliation by frustrated British soldiers, and an inflexible army hierarchy conspire to undermine Hal’s dedication. Meanwhile, Clara becomes increasingly afraid of her husband, whom she no longer recognizes. A thought-provoking meditation that powerfully evokes both the costs of waging war and the loving bonds of marriage. --Joanne Wilkinson