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The Wars

A novel by

The year is 1915, Robert Ross, a young Canadian, enlists as an officer. We follow him from his cloistered home in Toronto to army training in Alberta, the troopship crossing of the Atlantic, the slaughter at Ypres, military leave and romantic attachment in England, and a return to the devastation in Belgium. He is not yet twenty, and the novel chronicles his tangled responses to the new places and people which assail him on both sides of the Atlantic. The psychological pressure of private and public events builds to a tremendous force, and at the climax on the battlefield, Robert commits a desperate "act of madness." But the question is raised: what sort of madness? Protest? Or a resounding affirmation? The novel may focus on one war, but it is also the story of all wars. En route Findley gives us superb cameos of those who surround Robert: his family, his comrades, the animals he responds to so deeply, a flighty heiress in England, and the two delightful women whose memories of Robert help the narrator reconstruct what happened. Findley's scenes remain uncannily in the mind, at times evoking a doomed and comfortable era; at others depicting the humour and the horror of the trenches. The whole book has the immediacy, and impact, of film. It is a miraculous infusion of life into the yellowing photographs and letters we all remember. And at its centre is the compassionate portrait of Robert Ross, a young man whose smouldering inner warfare bursts into flame as he is swept into the most traumatic war in history. The Wars is an elemental novel with a magnificent feel for its period. It is a dazzling and powerful achievement.

TIMOTHY FINDLEY is an internationally acclaimed author whose novels include NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE, THE LAST OF THE CRAZY PEOPLE and THE TELLING OF LIES. In 1986 he was made an officer of the Order of Canada.

Genre: Historical

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