Peacetime

Peacetime

by Robert Edric
     
 

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In 1946, into a suspicious and isolated community comes James Mercer, employed in the demolition of gun platforms. He befriends the wife and daughter of Lynch, a soldier soon to be released from the military. Lynch's return threatens violence; and in a place where nothing has changed for decades, where peacetime feels no different than wartime, Mercer finds himself

Overview

In 1946, into a suspicious and isolated community comes James Mercer, employed in the demolition of gun platforms. He befriends the wife and daughter of Lynch, a soldier soon to be released from the military. Lynch's return threatens violence; and in a place where nothing has changed for decades, where peacetime feels no different than wartime, Mercer finds himself powerless to prevent events quickening to their violent and unexpected conclusion.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A novel of ambition and skill, at once a historical meditation, an evocation of a disintegrating society, and, perhaps most strikingly, a family melodrama.” —The New Statesman
Kirkus Reviews
A despairing portrait of humanity as it exists on Britain's Fenland coast at the end of WWII. Concealed in the dunes, James Mercer watches as 15-year-old Mary Lynch walks the shores of the Fens in the summer of 1946. The moment is significant. Mercer spends much of this somber tale carefully observing the inhabitants of a small village and the workers who have come there to dismantle, under his supervision, gun platforms built during the war. Mercer also studies, then becomes engaged with two men: Jacob Haas, a Dutch Jew and concentration camp survivor mourning the loss of his sister Anna; and Mathias Weisz, a German soldier captured at Normandy by the British. Regarding their experiences from his home in a tower at the edge of an abandoned airfield, Mercer realizes that life in this "wasteland" during peacetime will scarcely differ from their desperate existences on the continent during wartime. In trenchant dialogues, Mercer and his acquaintances look to the dark past and the bleak future. Haas, in failing health, recalls sadistic and harrowing camp incidents, one of which took the life of his sister. Weisz remembers the dissolution of his home. Mercer gradually becomes more actively committed to the lives around him. He moves to defend Lynch from her crude, bullying father and to protect Haas from the violent anti-Semitism of workers who fear the loss of their jobs and the inevitable dissolution of the village, which Edric renders in stark images. Seeking refuge from an angry mob, Weisz and Haas again find themselves in hiding; the postwar period brings no significant change or improvement to their lives. The war, Mercer observes, "still clung to everything it had once touched."Withspare, lean prose, British novelist Edric (The Broken Lands, 2001, etc.) creates a haunting and disturbing meditation about an empty, abandoned world passing through a meaningless transition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780552772068
Publisher:
Transworld Publishers Limited
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.02(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Edric's novels include Winter Garden (James Tait Black Prize-winner), A New Ice Age (1986 runner-up for the Guardian Fiction Prize), A Lundar Eclipse, The Earth Made of Glass, Elysium, In Desolate Heaven, The Sword Cabinet, The Book of the Heathen (shortlisted for the 2001 WH Smith Literary Award).

From the Hardcover edition.

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