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by Patricia Anthony

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Flanders is the breakout novel by Patricia Anthony, whose award-winning science fiction has transcended the genre through the sheer power of her storytelling. Flanders is Anthony's first true mainstream novel, a powerful evocation of the First World War—and the passage between life and death that reveals itself to one young soldier...  See more details below


Flanders is the breakout novel by Patricia Anthony, whose award-winning science fiction has transcended the genre through the sheer power of her storytelling. Flanders is Anthony's first true mainstream novel, a powerful evocation of the First World War—and the passage between life and death that reveals itself to one young soldier...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Flanders Fields, where so many died so horribly during WWI, an American volunteer named Travis Lee Stanhope finds terror, death, forgiveness and, ultimately, an odd sort of salvation. Anthony (God's Fires), one of speculative fiction's brightest talents, has written a novel of the Great War that is worthy of comparison to Erich Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Travis Lee is a wonderfully complex character, a wild boy from Texas who had the brains to win a scholarship to Harvard, a survivor of childhood abuse who hates his alcoholic father but fears he may be turning into him. Uncomfortable at home and at school, Travis, like many young Americans in 1916, enlists in the British army in search of adventure. What he finds instead is the monstrous human meatgrinder that is Flanders in northern France. Few writers have succeeded so well as Anthony in describing the horrors of trench warfare, the mud and disease, the rotting bodies and unending bombardment, the virtually universal madness that turns men into killers and rapists. Travis Lee is a talented sharpshooter, but as months of terror go by and the number of his kills grows, he beings to see things, at first in his dreams and later on the battlefield itself. Ghosts begin to haunt him, unwilling or unable to leave the shell craters and barbed wire where their lives ended. Told by a battlefield chaplain that he's gifted with the Second Sight, Travis Lee repeatedly finds himself wandering in an unearthly cemetery, a melancholy place that nonetheless hints at the possibility of eternal life. This is a harrowing and beautiful novel, demonstratingagainthat Anthony is one of our finest writers, in and out of the genre. (May) (PW best book of 1998)
VOYA - Kevin Beach
This wonderfully-written, unusual story, told through a series of letters from a young soldier to his brother, is set in 1916 Flanders where British troops are fighting the Germans. The horror of living and dying in the foxholes is vividly depicted in gruesome detail. Travis Lee is a Texas sharp-shooter seeking adventure who joins the European war. An anomaly to everyone, Harvard-educated Travis is at home in the wilderness, yet can quote the Romantic English classics. His company includes a Catholic priest; a psychotic, highly-decorated Canadian officer; and a Jewish captain, quietly undermined by the other officers, who becomes a soul mate to Travis. At first, Travis's letters home seem overly literate and descriptive, but he writes from the heart and his style is true to the time. Though Travis worries that his drunken father may harm his family, in time he grows numb. Along with his war mates, he adapts to the smell of mud, poisonous gas flames, dead bodies, and the routine killing. The monotony is broken only by retreats to reserve trenches away from the front, or surprise enemy attacks resulting in death and mutilation. Then Travis discovers his "gift"; dreaming of a peaceful place where a "calico girl" seems to protect him, he begins to see recently killed soldiers, and realizes his refuge is a cemetery. He also sees "ghosties" on the battlefield, confused souls who need to be led to the graveyard. An atheist who thinks he is going mad, Travis has long discussions with the priest who confirms Travis's gift, and "duty" to comfort the dead. Spending more and more time in the dream cemetery, Travis soon loses his ability to kill and is given the dangerous task of retrieving the dead and wounded from the battlefield. He knows the calico girl will come for him someday soon. Anthony adeptly conveys the "war is hell" theme in this complex novel--oddly and erroneously classified by the publisher as science fiction--explaining the motives and despair of soldiers at all levels. Frank portrayals of prostitutes, a rape, many brutal battle deaths, and sexual talk among the troops are a part of this very literate work for the mature high school student. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P S (Hard to imagine it being better written, For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Fighting in Flanders during the fall and winter of 1916 resulted in some of the worst carnage of WW I—the Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Passchendaele Ridge. British troops, called in to relieve the struggling French Army, fought in rain-soaked trenches filled with mud, rats, and disease, as well as the dead and wounded, while trying to avoid breathing the Germans' deadly mustard gas. Travis Lee Stanhope, a tough young Texan and Harvard graduate who aspires to be a doctor, worships the Romantic poets, especially Shelley and Keats, and joins the British Army for a "vacation," believing the war would be over by fall. The Yank becomes a sharpshooter in the no man's land between the German and British forces, and later, serves as a stretcher bearer. Travis narrates his adventures in a series of letters written to his younger brother, Bobby. The military men Travis meets change him in many ways—the Catholic priest O'Shaughnessy; his gay Jewish friend, Captain Miller; marksman Pierre LeBlanc; Sergeant Riddell and the men of his company. Unlike his fellow soldiers, Travis has a vivid dream life, a visionary awareness of things to come and a strange ability to communicate with the dead and bring them to peaceful rest in the graveyard of his dreams. Travis struggles with memories of his father's alcoholism, the rapes of two young Flemish women, and the prejudice against Jews in the army. He matures morally and spiritually as he witnesses the deaths of his friends and the grim conditions facing the survivors. An excellent book for teens and adults hungering for a realistic war story. Language and sexual incidents are appropriate to the combat context, although caution is advised forsome readers who might find it difficult to deal with these aspects. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Berkley, 354p, 21cm, $13.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Susan G. Allison; Libn., Lewiston H.S., Lewiston, ME, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Library Journal
Assigned to a British army unit as a sharpshooter in World War I, Texan Travis Lee Stanhope serves as a sniper in Flanders in 1916. As days of carnage and attrition alternate with an eerily pastoral dreamworld of the dead, Stanhope becomes a bridge across a different kind of No Man's Land. Anthony's (God's Fires, Ace, 1997) subtle and innovative storytelling reaches a new plane in her latest novel, a foray into magical realism that contrasts the waking hell of war with the fragile peace of eternity. An excellent candidate for readers of mainstream war fiction, this compelling story belongs in most libraries' general or fantasy collections.
Kirkus Reviews
From the author of God's Fires (1997), etc., an epistolary novel whose action takes place between March 2 and December 23, 1916. Former Harvard medical student Travis Lee Stanhope, now a private in the British army, is his company's crack sharpshooter. From his dugout in the cold, wet, muddy Flanders trenches, he describes his appalling day-to-day experiences in letters to his younger brother, Bobby, back home in Harper, Texas. In his brief replies, Bobby reminds Stanhope of a family life he'd prefer to forget. A lover of poetry, Stanhope is befriended by an officer, Captain Miller, whose double handicap is that he's both Jewish and homosexual. Stanhope's companion on patrol is the French-Canadian Pierre LeBlanc, a terrifying assassin who delights in creeping through the dark to slit enemy throats. The authorities come to suspect Stanhope of the rape/murder of a young French girl; his alibi is watertightþhe was spying on Miller in a clinch with another officer—but he can't betray Miller by saying so. Stanhope finds peace only in dreams, which take him to a graveyard where his dead companions in glass-topped graves, watched over by a calico girl in a mausoleum with a blue glass ceiling. Mesmerizing stuff, highly textured and brimming with insight. Why is it science fiction? Well, it isn't; and attempting to market it as such helps this frustratingly underappreciated author not at all: Science fiction's loss would be the literary mainstream's gain.

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Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.18(d)

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Flanders 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was suprised when I read reviews comparing 'Flanders' to 'All Quiet of the Western Front.' Yes, they both capture life on the the Western Front. However, 'Flanders' is also a story about three men, a French-Canadian, an English Jew, and a Texan. They harbor secrets and tragedies that the war rips open and pushes them into the dark recesses of anger, betrayal and loneliness. The narrative is very straightforward and vivid. Sometimes it betrays too much information for an epistilary format. On the other hand I cannot imagine the delivery of the last few pages in any other form. I bought this book almost four years ago and I still read it. 'Flanders' always offers me something. This novel is brutal, but it's also funny and spiritual.