A vaguely loopy novel about the aging English son of a WWII veteran and his efforts to make peace with his age, his dad's ghost, and his fascination with military history. Thomas Somers, vacationing in France with his wife Katherine and their children, is disturbed to recall that in a few days he will have lived longer than his father, who died at 59. He attempts to stuff the troublesome fact away, but one trouble follows after another. His body already fat and balding (with a small penis inherited, he supposes, from Dad), Thomas begins to bleed from his bowel. His wife and children make changes in their plans that do not include Wellington's Spanish battlefields, but Thomas is so crestfallen that Katherine sends him to Spain alone, with hopes for his restoration. Rathbone, throughout, inserts descriptions of moments from Thomas' past, including hellish school years, parents who are smilingly hostile and loveless, and memories of the war years. Shunted aside by proper society, Thomas has a lifelong sense of personal inadequacyand his upcoming birthday seems merely a reminder of the injustice that his father, after all, was the better man. In Spain, Thomas tromps a beloved battlefield, continues to bleed, and has a cathartic dream/fantasy/alcoholic vision of fighting with Wellington, all while recalling his father's tragic heroism during the war. In saving his troops, Thomas recalls, his father had to allow one man to die, and the guilt broke his spirit forever. There is some oblique notion that, in dreamfighting bravely with Wellington in 1813, Thomas is redeemed in 1994 and deserves to live. Relieved, he returns to his family, though the questions of his bleeding and swollenpenis remain unresolved. British writer Rathbone (Accidents Will Happen, 1997; etc.) gives spirited, informed frolic to a boy's fantasies of war, but Thomas' personal crises fall short of engaging.