Magazine article The Spectator

Raymond Carr

Magazine article The Spectator

Raymond Carr

Article excerpt

Without a shadow of doubt the most moving book that I have read this year is Ben Macintyre's A Foreign Field (HarperCollins, 7.99). It is a superb reconstruction of the fate of a group of stragglers left behind after the battle of Mons in 1914 who settle down in a French village, first accepted in the local community only to be betrayed to the Germans in the end.

As with Macintyre's book, I only read Ian McEwan's Atonement (Vintage, 7.99) when it came out in paperback. I admired the skill with which he leads up to his surprise denouement but I didn't warm to his description of country-house life in the 1930s and wartime, a subplot which has become stale after its exploitation by Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh. What was convincing was the careful reconstruction of the retreat to Dunkirk, and the life of a nurse in a London wartime hospital. …

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