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Small Wars: A Novel Hardcover – January 19, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061929883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061929885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,910,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

More About the Author

Sadie Jones's first novel, THE OUTCAST, was published to wide critical acclaim and won the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain. It was also a finalist for the prestigious Orange Prize, as well as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. A year later, she published her second novel, SMALL WARS, a tale of love, war, and honor, again to impressive critical praise. THE UNINVITED GUESTS is her brilliant third book, a complete departure from her earlier novels, and a small masterpiece. Sadie Jones lives in London.

Customer Reviews

As such, the book is a very quick read, the prose tight, the dialogue believeable, and the drama quite real.
Konrad Baumeister
[Page 113] This is not only the story of war but also a story of what occurs when the cruelties one learns of, as well as witnesses crush a young man of conscience.
Marilyn Raisen
In the meantime, we are feeling what it's like to live this life in Cyprus - great descriptions and settings, realistic dialogue, real characters.
Barbara McArthur

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a riveting achievement -- perhaps the most personal and devastating novels about the effects of war on the human soul that I have ever read.

At the center of this book is Hal Treherne, a major in the British Army, called to duty to the British colony of Cyprus. There, he and his beautiful young wife, Clara, and their two baby daughters, set up life in the midst of escalating skirmishes.

Like the mythical Dorian Gray, Major Treherne initially becomes infatuated...with the glory of war. But his euphoria quickly fades. Early on, he directs a siege, where an ambush group pours petrol down the exit shaft of a cave, followed by grenades, and stands by as men -- either blackened or burned -- come stumbling out. Gradually, this, and other debaunched acts, darken his soul while outwardly, he gives the appearance of being successful and in command.

Even finding comfort with Clara becomes impossible. Sadie Jones writes: "Without looking at her, he took his eye down her horizon...small hill for head, little steep valley into neck, hill off shoulder, deep valley to wait...not a home landscape then, an island." The love and sustenance this couple found in each other disintegrates; although it is not defined, this is a devastating portrait of post traumatic stress disorder.

As Hal and Clara each struggle -- separately and alone -- to remain human in an inhuman world, the atrocities begin to hit home. And Hal is faced with a choice: to make a separate peace or to continue the insanity.

This is an extraordinarily polished book; Sadie Jones knows just when to lead the reader with lush detail and when to step back and let the reader's imagination take over. It evokes books such as Ian McEwan's Atonement,Hemingway's Farewell to Arms, and Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant, but yet carves a niche all its own. I will not soon forget it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karie Hoskins VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the day and a half since I finished "Small Wars", I've spent more time going over the events and characters than when I was actually reading the book. As this novel was unfolding, I had such a sense of dread as to what the final results might be, that I had to set it aside a few times just to take a break.

Hal and Clara Treherne are the main characters of "Small Wars" - a book set in the mid-1950s, but who live out a story that could be, and probably is, taking place today. It's a story about war, about winning a war - even when "winning" has been poorly defined, and even when the costs may be even greater to the victor than to the vanquished.

This story is so sad, and so's been haunting me. Soldiers and their families are going through these very experiences as I write this. The brutality of war, the isolation of a foreign language and culture, the crippling doubt of what is right and what is wrong in a time of war...and trying to reconcile the person one must become to withstand war with the person one is to one's family.

It's a story about how much a person can accept under extreme circumstances - both in actions taken and things experienced - while still holding on to one's soul.

"He was left on his own then to sleep, but confined by physical pain and the shame of his weakness, he didn't sleep. In the dark part of the night, after the moon had gone and before the sun came up, he died. He died of a heart-attack, which couldn't have been prevented, and perhaps was nobody's fault, but it was a very lonely death, and fearful."

Hal, the textbook 1950's British soldier, is stationed in Cypress and brings his wife Clara and their twin daughters with him.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Graves VINE VOICE on December 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was drawn to this book because it is set in Cyprus when the British were trying to keep the peace. I had family in the Royal Navy, which had been a part of the British forces in Cyprus during the period covered in the book. Having grown up on stories of the conflict I was all set to enjoy a tale about it. But with "Small Wars" I found myself picking it up and putting it down just a small time later. Each time I made a strong effort I found I couldn't stay with it without a real effort of will.

It falls to the author to use words to paint a picture of the world as she wants her reader to see it. The problem comes in the writing style of Sadie Jones. It seems to be almost myopic in its use of descriptive words. Sadie focuses in very closely on the thing she wants you to know about and it is well done but then she seems to forget the rest of the world.

For example early on the lead characters are at a graduation ball at Sandhurst. Jones goes into detail about the dress one woman is wearing and comments that half the men in the hall were wearing uniforms and half formal wear but other than that, nothing. We don't know the size of the hall, how big is it? Is it empty or crowded? White walls or wood paneling? Carpet or boards or linoleum? The picture painted by Jones is of a woman in a strapless gown, midnight blue to match her eyes, moving through a vaguely described group of people in a completely undescribed room. It takes on an annoyingly dream like quality for what is a waking world.

When going into a Greek village it is said to be build along a narrow street but are the houses brick? Wood? Clapboard? Adobe? Painted? New? decrepit?
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