Resistance by Owen Sheers

2 Feb
Cover of "Resistance"

I loved this book.

When I started it I knew nothing about it, nothing at all. A friend recommended it to me at our last book group gathering – in fact she suggested that we have a book group outing to see the movie of the book when it comes to the Cameo in Edinburgh later this month.  I like this plan.

And when a couple of days later I finished the current book, Resistance felt like the right next book to start. I’m slightly picky about what order I read books in, and never really decide which book will be my next book until I’ve actually finished the one I’m on.  (OK sometimes I read more than one at a time, but that doesn’t count). I downloaded Resistance onto my kindle on the train down to London – what a blissful piece of technology a kindle is! But more on that another time.  And possibly on another place. I need to tell you about our new blog.  I say ‘our’. The fabulous patothecity has set up edinburghbookgroup.  It’s a place for people to chatter about books. It’s in its infancy, so who knows where it might go, but I have visions of a virtual book group – a resource for people wanting to discuss what they’ve read, whether it is online or in their own local book group. Go have a look, join in by commenting if you feel like it…

But back to Resistance.

You’d expect Resistance to be beautifully written, given that the author is a poet, but I don’t think I was prepared for such an evocative book.  It’s set in the last months of the second world war, but it is a different second world war: Germany has invaded Britain and is winning. So,although there is a very strong sense of time, it’s not the time as we’ve seen it before, it is distorted by a dramatic change of circumstances.

The whole story is set in an isolated Welsh valley, opening one morning with the womenfolk of the valley who all wake up to discover that their menfolk have upped and left them in the middle of the night. The sense of loss is almost physical, with a recurring description of the imprint from his body on the mattress. But the women choose to go on as though nothing has happened; or perhaps there was little choice. Country life is hard, and life in the country during the dying days of a war are unbearably hard. Owen Sheers depicts that hardship beautifully.

If you want to see what else I’ve read this year, see my list.  If you have any recommendations for me, leave a comment.  Preferably not chick lit though.

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