An unforgettable recreation of life in wartime, and of the tragic fate of Poland in the 20th century. A novel about sabotage, betrayal and the terrible sadness of exile. This is an unforgettable recreation of life in wartime, and of the tragic fate of Poland in the twentieth century: a novel about sabotage, betrayal and the terrible sadness of exile. In 1940, during the Phoney War, a French destroyer blows up in the Firth of Clyde. The disaster is witnessed by Jackie, a young girl who, for a time, thinks she caused the explosion by running away that day from school; by her mother Helen, a spirited woman married to a dreary young officer; and by a Polish officer, whose country has just been erased from the map by Hitler and Stalin. Their lives, and the lives of many others, are changed by the death of the Fronsac. This is a story about divided loyalties, treachery and exile; about people in flight from the destinies that seemed to be theirs before the war disrupted the world they knew.
'A wholehearted emotional book ... It makes you understand fuel tanks and dirty wrecked water - and also unexpected elderly love' The Tablet, Books of the Year. 'A gripping fictional account' Country Life. 'It brings history to life for sure but stands as a remarkable first novel. I hope Ascherson has more novels to write' Tribune. '[A] humane and compassionate novel ... As wise as it is rich. It is an absorbing, complex and humane piece of fiction about terrible times and how good and bad people make the best they can of them' The Bottle Imp. '[Neal Ascherson's] gripping second world war novel [is a] thoughtful portrait of the wartime experience' Spectator. 'Ambitious and affecting' Sunday Herald. 'A story that conjures up memorable characters and describes vividly the wartime atmosphere ... an engrossing book' Greenock Telegraph. 'A wayward story told with admirable vigour and intensity' The National.
Neal Ascherson is a journalist and writer. He reported from Asia, Africa and Central Europe for the Observer. He contributes regularly to the New York Review and the LRB. His books include Black Sea, Games with Shadows and The Polish August.