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Small Wars by Sadie Jones

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Teresa's Reading Corner: Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Monday, January 24, 2011

Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Synopsis from Goodreads:  The prizewinning author of The Outcast delivers the emotionally searing story of a marriage in crisis, an unflinching look at lives irrevocably altered by one of history's "small wars."

Hal Treherne is a major in the British Army, a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. When he is transferred to the British colony of Cyprus in 1956, Hal is joined by Clara, his beautiful and supportive wife, and their baby daughters. The Trehernes quickly learn that the Mediterranean is no "sunshine posting," however, and soon Hal is caught up in the battle to defend the island against Cypriots seeking enosis, union with Greece.

Leading his men in difficult and bloody skirmishes, after years of peaceful service, Hal at last tastes triumph. But his confidence and pride quickly fade: traumatized by the brutality he witnesses-and thwarted again in his attempts to do the right thing-Hal finds himself well trained in duty but ill equipped for moral battle.

A seasoned army wife, Clara shares her husband's sense of obligation. She knows to settle in quickly, make no fuss, smile. But as she struggles to trust her own maternal instincts and resist the anxiety that surges with Hal's frequent absences, Clara grows fearful of her increasingly distant husband. When she needs him most, Clara finds the once-tender Hal a changed man-a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.

What place is there for honor amid cruelty, and what becomes of intimacy in the grinding gears of empire? A passionate and brilliantly researched novel about the effects of war on the men who wage it and the families they leave behind, Small Wars raises important questions that resonate for our own time.

My thoughts: I've gone back and forth on this book.  When I started it I thought it was just okay.  It was another young couple getting together before he goes off to war.  The story quickly jumps into their marriage and they have been separated while he is stationed abroad.  The family is finally reunited and I was eager for the story to begin.  What I didn't realize was how pertinent the war itself was t the story.  I'll admit that I got lost a time or two as the author describes the small battles that Hal is involved in on a daily basis.  Finally I realized that I needed to look past them, and really look at what was going on.  

This was not only a tale of the relationship between a soldier and his bride.  The story encompasses the relationships of the soldier and his men as well as that of the soldier and the wars.  Each of these relationships intertwine to lead us to the unexpected climax.

While many of the readers might not be soldiers in the military each one of us are soldiers in our own way. We are each fighting battles that others may or may not be aware of.  This is the story of Hal and Clara, how each of them were fighting their own battles and neither of them  aware of what the other is dealing with.

In the end, I enjoyed this book.  I thought it was realistic portrayal of the difficulty of being married to someone whose job prevents them from open communication with the ones that matter most.  

Sadie Jones lives in London and has one other book to her credit.  Her first novel, The Outcast won the Costa First Novel Award and was a finalist for both the Orange Prize as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction.

Check out the other Stops on the Small Wars Blog Tour:
Tuesday, January 18th: nomadreader
Thursday, January 20th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, January 25th: Unabridged Chick
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

I received my copy of Small wars to participate in this blog tour presented by TLC Book Tours.  This is my honest opinion of the book.
This title qualifies for the What's in a Name 4 Challenge under Title with a size in it.  Yay!

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At January 27, 2011 at 11:30 AM , Blogger Audra said...

Lovely review. I just finished this one and found it made me v nostalgic -- but I'm an Air Force brat and my family was stationed in the Mediterranean. I know much of my enjoyment came from relating to the novel on such an emotional, memory/sense level. Still, I thought the writing had a sense of distance that emphasized the unspoken between Hal and Clara.


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