By Tim Pears
Published Feb 2014
A powerful and devastating novel of war, love and loss by one of Britain’s finest writers.
It is May 1944 and in Eastern Europe the Second World War is reaching a dramatic and bloody crescendo. High above the mountains of occupied Slovenia an aeroplane drops three British parachutists – brash MP Major Jack Farwell, radio operator Sid Dixon, and young academic Lieutenant Tom Freedman – sent to assist the resistance in their battle against the Axis forces.
Greeted upon arrival by a rag-tag group of Partisans, the men are led off into the countryside. It is early summer, and the mountains and forests teem with life and colour. Despite the distant crackle of gunfire, the war feels a long way of for Tom. The Partisans, too, are not what he was expecting – courageous, kind and alluring, especially Jovan, their commander, and the hauntingly beautiful Marija. Yet after a series of daring encounters, the enemy’s net begins to tighten. They find evidence of massacres, of a dark and terrible band of men pursuing them through the wilderness. As the Partisans stumble their way towards a final, tragic battle, so the relationships within the group begin to fray, with Tom finding himself forced to face up to his deepest, most secret desires.