Small Wars: A Novel

Small Wars: A Novel

4.0 3
by Sadie Jones

View All Available Formats & Editions

The prizewinning author of The Outcast delivers the emotionally searing story of a marriage in crisis, an unflinching look at lives irrevocably altered by one of history's "small wars."

Hal Treherne is a major in the British Army, a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. When he is transferred to the

…  See more details below


The prizewinning author of The Outcast delivers the emotionally searing story of a marriage in crisis, an unflinching look at lives irrevocably altered by one of history's "small wars."

Hal Treherne is a major in the British Army, a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. When he is transferred to the British colony of Cyprus in 1956, Hal is joined by Clara, his beautiful and supportive wife, and their baby daughters. The Trehernes quickly learn that the Mediterranean is no "sunshine posting," however, and soon Hal is caught up in the battle to defend the island against Cypriots seeking enosis, union with Greece.

Leading his men in difficult and bloody skirmishes, after years of peaceful service, Hal at last tastes triumph. But his confidence and pride quickly fade: traumatized by the brutality he witnesses—and thwarted again in his attempts to do the right thing—Hal finds himself well trained in duty but ill equipped for moral battle.

A seasoned army wife, Clara shares her husband's sense of obligation. She knows to settle in quickly, make no fuss, smile. But as she struggles to trust her own maternal instincts and resist the anxiety that surges with Hal's frequent absences, Clara grows fearful of her increasingly distant husband. When she needs him most, Clara finds the once-tender Hal a changed man—a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.

What place is there for honor amid cruelty, and what becomes of intimacy in the grinding gears of empire? A passionate and brilliantly researched novel about the effects of war on the men who wage it and the families they leave behind, Small Wars raises important questions that resonate for our own time.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Worlds away from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, this stunning new novel from Jones (after the highly regarded The Outcast) set in 1956 Cyprus might just as easily describe the present. In the lead-up to the Suez Canal crisis, the British occupational forces find themselves amid a terrorist campaign conducted by the EOKA, a group of Greek Cypriots set on independence at any cost via pipe bombs, rock throwing, land mines, and roadside ambushes. For their part, the British employ equally familiar counterinsurgency torture and interrogation measures to maintain order. Against this backdrop, career officer Hal Treherne and his family settle into life on the base, where Hal is charged with routing out terrorists. The daily skirmishes take a toll on Hal and undermine his marriage. VERDICT This richly imagined and warmly atmospheric story convincingly demonstrates that small wars, like all wars, are hell. This is historical fiction at its best. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Kirkus Reviews
Another intensely buttoned-up British scenario from Jones, who shows a marriage and a belief tested during the Cyprus Emergency. The Outcast (2008), her powerfully visualized, emotionally devastating debut, portrayed a loner in postwar England. This follow-up focuses on a couple, Major Hal Treherne and his wife Clara. A career soldier known as a decent and fair man, Hal is posted in January 1956 to Cyprus, where colonial forces endure random bomb attacks and shootings by guerrillas seeking union with Greece. Clara and their twin daughters join him on the British base, but the two adults' lives quickly diverge to run on parallel tracks. She is confined to the roles of wife, mother and sexual partner, while his responsibilities revolve around life-and-death military operations. Jones ably delineates in clipped, cool detail the divided male and female experiences: tense domesticity versus ineradicable encounters with blood and terror. Hal's conscience is pricked by one of his subordinates, Lt. Davis, who reports that during a poorly organized mass roundup he observed the unprovoked shooting of a civilian and the rape of two women by British soldiers. Col. Burroughs, who ordered the roundup, disparages the witness and reprimands Hal. The gulf between his integrity and the military's slippery pragmatism forces Hal finally to risk everything he previously held dear. A darkly compelling account of honor and disillusionment with contemporary resonance, less wrenching than Jones's first novel but nevertheless a confirmation of her considerable talent.
Boston Globe
“A taut and transfixing novel… [Jones is] a gifted young author.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Ambitious and thematically charged…A timely novel, as well as a harrowing one”
New York Times Book Review
“In lean, penetrating prose...Jones serves her themes most potently with an unflinching tumble of violent encounters that effectively transform Hal’s liberation...into a haunting act of transcendence.”

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
557 KB

Meet the Author

Sadie Jones is the author of four novels, including The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, Small Wars, and the bestselling The Uninvited Guests. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Small Wars 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
London based author Sadie Jones won us with her critically acclaimed debut novel THE OUTCAST. She was praised for "her lush writing and tantalizing sense of setting and detail." So true, and all of this is at the fore once more with SMALL WARS, a deeply affecting story of love and loyalty. We first meet Hal Treherne as a cadet at a Sandhurst passing-out parade in 1946. As Princess Elizabeth moves down the line during inspection Hal "knew that she was the embodiment of his country, that he was doing his best to please and that he always would." Action segues quickly to a volatile Cyprus in 1956. Hal is now a major in the British Army, and has been dispatched here to ferret out terrorists, those who are seeking to unite with Greece. The guerrillas fight with any means - rocks, bombs, ambushes, random shootings, piano wire stretched across roads in the hope of lopping off British heads. Early in his tenure Hal is joined by his wife, Clara, and their young twin daughters, Meg and Lottie. Initially Clara is brave, cheerful, eager to make the best of things while they're in Cyprus. As for Hal, remember how we first met him - he is a moral man, an honorable man, believing that he is serving the greater good. However, the almost daily attacks begin to take their toll on him, and he is appalled, haunted by unexpected violence on the part of his men, raping, torturing. His state of mind, of course, affects Clara who is alone a great deal of the time with their girls in a strange, dangerous place. Their once solid marriage becomes frayed; Clara and Hal driven almost to desperation, each fighting their own private battles. Sadie Jones has crafted a remarkable story, richly detailed, reminding us of how deeply lives are affected by war. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Some say that when people go away to war they come back completely different, never to return to who they once were. Yet sometimes we fail to see the changes that affect not only the soldier, but the families of those that support them during their absence. Often times it takes such a toll on them as well that the war doesn't stop when the soldier returns home. That may be when the small wars begin. As Clara marries into the British army to Hal Treherne, she believes that theirs will be a marriage and family that lasts forever. Hal's greatest desire in becoming a soldier is that he will be a part of the war that his father was and be the pride to his family by joining in the ranks of supporting his country. Yet that isn't the text book scenario for Hal. He spends the majority of his time on the home front conducting interrogations as the war erupts over unification with Greece and not on the battle fields risking his life. Great for Clara and the girls but not so great for Hal. The tension slowly begins as you see the changes that take place between Clara and Hal as one pulls away and the other attempts to draw near. It isn't until mines are planted on the beach on the base, that will launch Hal into his dream career and forever change the lives of him and Clara. In the newest novel by Sadie Jones, Small Wars, chronicles the lives of Clara and Hal as they attempt to navigate the turbulent waters of war in their own country but the war that is developing between them in their marriage. No amount of military training will prepare Hal for the moral compromise that lie beneath every battle he fights. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and must say I felt I got a front row seat into the lives of what really goes on behind the doors of many military marriages. This one is a captivating 5 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago