'An intensely moving and atmospheric novel - subtle, powerful and beautifully written. It's a devastating journey at times, but a compelling one' Antonia Hodgson, author of The Devil in the Marshalsea
A deeply compelling and poignant story that, like the novels of Pat Barker or Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong, dramatises the tragic lessons of war, the significance of belonging and of memory - without which we become lost, even to ourselves.
Spring, 1945: A man wakes in a field in a country he does not know. Injured and confused, he pulls himself to his feet and starts to walk, and so sets out on an extraordinary journey in search of his home, his past and himself.
His name is Owen. A war he has only a vague memory of joining is in its dying days, and as he tries to get back to England he becomes caught up in the flood of refugees pouring through Europe. Among them is a teenage boy, Janek, and together they form an unlikely alliance as they cross battle-worn Germany. When they meet a troubled young woman, tempers flare and scars are revealed as Owen gathers up the shattered pieces of his life. No one is as he remembers, not even himself - how can he truly return home when he hardly recalls what home is?
'A truly absorbing read, the kind you finish in a single sitting, and ... a most welcome addition to the body of wartime tales' Rosemary Goring, Sunday Herald
'Told with aching realism ... A gripping novel that will stay with you long after you have read the last page'Sophia Whitfield, Culture Street
'Conjuring up the confusion of terror and war in which [Hewitt's] central character struggles to reclaim his sense of self' Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
'A wide-reaching and poignant evocation of WWII and its landswept aftermath. Told in exquisite prose, Owen's journey builds to a powerful and - yes - devastating finale. The most moving and gripping novel I've read in a long while' Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City
'A hypnotic and heartrending tale of fragmented wartime memories. Beautifully written' Juliet West, author of Before the Fall
Hewitt's profoundly moving thriller, his second novel after 2015's The Dynamite Room, charts the harrowing journey of Owen, a British flight engineer suffering from amnesia, across war-torn Europe during the last days of WWII. Owen must somehow get from rural Czechoslovakia back home to England, all the while trying to remember exactly who he is. As he slowly pieces together the disjointed memories of his past, Czech teenager Janek Sokol and a Polish woman with a newborn baby join him in attempting to maneuver through a nightmarish landscape of mass death and destruction. Comparable to Kosinki's The Painted Bird in both theme and gruesome imagery, Hewitt's travelogue fluctuates between clarity and confusion, keeping the reader in a continual state of uncertainty. Sublime imagery ("Thin-framed dragonflies motored about like silent biplanes") is a plus. Readers will undoubtedly feel a sense of overwhelming sorrow by the end. But that very well may be the point.