Author(s): Chris Cleave
The breathtaking new novel from the multi-award-winning author of THE OTHER HAND. 'A cracker' Stylist, 10 Exciting Books in 2016 'His best book to date' Esquire, 10 best novels of 2016 Guardian Literary Highlight of 2016 Independent Best Book to read in 2016 Irish News Top Picks for 2016 Washington Post 20 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2016 When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up. Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate Alistair unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided. Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget. Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams. In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history, and a perfect love story, through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that, against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs, that change us most.
We have hosted Chris Cleave here in Nelson on two occasions and he is a delightful and humble man. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed his books, The Other Hand and Gold, this is a completely different story set during the Second World War and based on the lives of Cleave’s grandparents. An absorbing read, it tells the story of Mary North who enlists immediately after war is declared, hoping to be a spy but instead assigned to a teaching job. When the children are sent to the countryside, there are some who are not wanted there and end up back in London, where Mary takes it upon herself to teach them and look out for them. She is backed by Education Ministry official Tom Shaw who supports her, and their relationship becomes closer, but when Tom's friend and flatmate Alistair enlists things get a bit complicated. Alistair is posted to Malta after leaving France and the book gives an insight into the deprivation suffered by the inhabitants and defenders of Malta under the Nazi blockade. This is a great read, and fans of Chris Cleave won't be disappointed. Highly recommended. - Peter
It's a war novel but not as you know it. Cleave, a Guardian journalist and celebrated novelist (Incendiary, The Other Hand), has reportedly written his best book to date with this tale of a young teacher determined to stay in Blitz-time London. Esquire, Top 10 Best New Novels of 2016
Chris Cleave's debut novel INCENDIARY won the Somerset Maugham Award, among others. His second, the Costa-shortlisted THE OTHER HAND, was a global bestseller and sat in the New York Times Top Ten for over a year (under the US title, Little Bee). Both books were shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prizes. He lives in Kingston-upon-Thames with his wife and three children, and welcomes readers at facebook.com/ChrisCleaveBooks, www.chriscleave.com and twitter.com/chriscleave.