“Sadie Jones has a long literary future ahead of her.” —Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with the Pearl Earring Fresh off her triumphantly assured debut novel The Outcast, award-winning author Sadie Jones has again delivered a quiet masterpiece in Small Wars. Set on the colonial, war-torn island of Cyprus in 1956, Jones tells the story of a young solider, Hal Treherne, and the effects of this “small war” on him, his wife Clara, and their family. Reminiscent of classic tales of love and war such as The English Patient and Atonement, Jones’s gripping novel also calls to mind the master works of Virginia Woolf and their portrayal of the quiet desperation of a marriage in crisis. Small Wars is at once a deeply emotional, meticulously researched work of historical fiction and a profound meditation on war-time atrocities committed both on and off the battlefield.
In her excellent second novel (after The Outcast), Jones sets a couple down in turbulent 1956 Cyprus as the Cypriots seek union with Greece and resist British rule. British army major Hal Treherne is dispatched to Cyprus, taking along his wife, Clara, and their young twin girls. There, they fight separate, but equally maddening, battles Clara as an army wife with babies in an increasingly dangerous land, and Hal on the front lines where, yearning for firefights, he is instead haunted by his lack of control when torture and rape occur at the hands of his own men. While Hal dodges mortal danger, Clara tries to keep the homefront together, struggling to remain supportive of him as she remains isolated with the twins and he is tormented by the violence he witnesses. After Clara narrowly avoids death, Hal makes a split-second decision with powerful implications for their future. The narrative is excruciatingly tense and also graced with real emotion as a marriage is pushed to the brink and loyalties are stretched and broken. It's the perfect mix of poignant and harrowing.