The Cartographer of No Man's Land: A Novel

The Cartographer of No Man's Land: A Novel

4.7 4
by P.S. Duffy
     
 

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The lauded masterpiece about a family divided by World War I, hailed as “brilliant . . . altogether a remarkable debut” (Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room).
From a village in Nova Scotia to the trenches of France, P. S. Duffy’s astonishing debut showcases a rare talent emerging in midlife.
When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at

Overview

The lauded masterpiece about a family divided by World War I, hailed as “brilliant . . . altogether a remarkable debut” (Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room).
From a village in Nova Scotia to the trenches of France, P. S. Duffy’s astonishing debut showcases a rare talent emerging in midlife.
When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he is instead sent directly into battle. Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a town torn by grief. Selected as both a Barnes & Noble Discover pick and one of the American Bookseller Association’s Debut Dozen, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a soulful portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.

Editorial Reviews

Starred Review Booklist
“[T]hanks to Duffy’s full realization—each character, however minor, is a distinct personality; the action is grounded in closely observed details of fishing life and trench warfare; and her patience in developing the cast of characters makes for an unusually rich novel. In addition, the world of shipping and the uncertainty of the uncharted front line provide poignant metaphors for the characters’ navigation of conflict, loss, and change, as well as their journey back to each other—and to themselves.”
Amy Brill
“A haunting meditation on family, friendship, and sacrifice. . . . A powerful debut.”
Mary Beth Keane
“To call this novel a coming-of-age story is not nearly enough; every character in this beautiful novel—young or old—is faced with a rapidly changing world and the task of finding firm-footing within it. Never sentimental, Duffy knows where to find the humanity at the heart of even the smallest gestures. By the end I was so immersed in this story that I swear I could hear water lapping the pilings.”
Alexi Zentner
“Less of a book about maps and World War I than it is about boys becoming men, men discovering who they are, and the connections between fathers and sons. . . . P.S. Duffy spent many years writing this remarkable debut; The Cartographer of No Man's Land was worth the wait.”
Jessica Francis Kane
“A graceful, dignified look at all the ways in which war is endured: from the stories people tell to keep themselves alive at the front, to the fault lines that threaten the home-front bond. This is a moving and memorable debut.”

Like his father and his son, Angus McGrath is a pacifist, but when his brother-in-law goes missing in the World War I, he enlists and leaves his native Nova Scotia for Europe. Though promised a safe cartographer's job in London, he is dispatched instead to the muddy, bloody trenches of France. Meanwhile back in Nova Scotia, his son Simon Peter is fighting a quite different war, opposed on almost every side by teenagers fervent for the Allied cause. This meticulously researched debut novel captures the reality of both the Great War and battles fought on this side of the Atlantic. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Duffy’s first novel explores the circles of hell opened up by war, both on the actual war front and at home. Angus MacGrath leaves his beloved Nova Scotia to enlist in WWI and find his missing brother-in-law, Ebbin, defying Angus’s pacifist father. A sailor with a deft hand for sketching and painting, Angus expects to serve as a cartographer in London, but instead is sent to the front lines in France as an officer. Facing the possibility of his own death and witnessing the deaths of the men around him daily, he changes in ways he couldn’t have imagined. At home, his 13-year-old son, Simon Peter, deals with his own revelations about loyalty, prejudice, and connection. The novel takes a series of surprising plot turns, sometimes leaving the reader wondering how much actually happened and how much was imagined by the characters to protect themselves from horrific realities. Physical and emotional geography are beautifully rendered, and Duffy’s vivid descriptions illuminate war’s transformative effect in fresh ways. Well-nuanced characters and carefully choreographed (but still surprising) situations make this a strong debut. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (Oct.)
Simon Mawer
“Brilliant. The description of front line action in the trenches is impressively real, and the ending blessedly free from sentimentality. Altogether a remarkable debut.”
Library Journal
The year is 1916, and Angus MacGrath leaves Snag Harbor, a hardscrabble Nova Scotia fishing village, to join the war and search for his adored brother-in-law, Ebbin Hant, who has gone missing on the front lines. An artist, Angus is promised a cartographer's position in London but is instead sent directly to the battlegrounds of France. Duffy's astounding first novel depicts terrifyingly real battle scenes, rich in subtle details, displaying the intimacies shared among soldiers and the memories that haunt them. While Angus battles in the trenches, his son Simon is fighting a war of his own back at home—traversing the growing hostility and blistering emotions of a grief-stricken village and his pacifist family while coming of age without his father. VERDICT Duffy's Nova Scotian roots trace back to over 250 years, and clearly the author has done her research to write a gripping World War I story told from two fronts, France and Canada. Essential reading for historical fiction lovers and war story fans alike; very highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/29/13.]—Lisa Block, Atlanta

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780871407771
Publisher:
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
06/02/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
371
Sales rank:
455,678
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

P. S. Duffy grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and spent summers sailing in Nova Scotia. She is a science writer for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband.

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The Cartographer of No Man's Land: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book, full of understanding, passion, nuance and rich description. A masterfully crafted story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Free and easy