A novel of fine-tuned beauty, sharp insight and emotional subtlety – about a family in the shadow of WWII
May, 1940. Brighton. Wartime.
On Park Crescent, a sunlit and usually tranquil street, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news. The enemy is expected to land on the beaches of Brighton any day.
It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while young Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton’s Royal Pavilion his English HQ. He spends hours with his friends imagining life in Brighton under Hitler’s rule. And as the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, her thoughts becoming tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.
Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband’s internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn’s and Otto’s mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest.
Love collides with fear, the power of art with the forces of war, and the lives of Evelyn, Otto, and Geoffrey are changed irrevocably.
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Alison MacLeod grew up in Montreal and Halifax, and has lived in England since 1987. She is the author of two novels, The Changeling and The Wave Theory of Angels, and a collection of stories, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction. She is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester and lives in Brighton.Review:
“Unexploded is like a piece of finely wrought ironwork, uncommonly delicate but at the same time astonishingly strong and tensile; it’s a novel of staggering elegance and beauty." –The Independent
"Full of simmering tension, resentment and unexpressed passion...A bold, cleverly-told story from a writer who knows exactly what she’s doing." –The Observer
"An exploration of the xenophobia and neurosis unleashed in times of national crisis...MacLeod remains one of the most astute...writing today." –The Guardian
"The plot is fast-paced and engaging, the characters are compelling, and the descriptions of wartime Brighton are pin-sharp...The novel’s denouement is as heart-rending as it is unexpected." –The Financial Times
"The author’s grasp of emotions, and history of art as well as politics, lend depth and charge...[There is also] the sensuality of MacLeod’s prose, whether dealing with art, desire or love; and her uncanny way of allowing us to experience the thought processes of her characters as if they are traversing our own brain synapses." –The Independent on Sunday
From the Hardcover edition.
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