Passionate and brilliantly rendered, Small Wars questions how honor can exist amid cruelty and asks what becomes of intimacy in the grinding gears of empire.
A major in the British Army, Hal Treherne is a dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. He is eager to lead his men into combat; his wife, Clara, however, is relieved when they are posted instead to seemingly peaceful sun-kissed Cyprus. But war erupts over unification with Greece, the island is consumed by violence—and Hal discovers that his military training cannot help him navigate the minefields of moral compromise that lie beneath every battle he fights. Clara grows fearful of her increasingly distant husband. When she needs him most, she finds the once-tender Hal a changed man—a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.
Small Wars by Sadie Jones is a multifaceted historical fiction account of 1956 Cyprus as the Cypriots are uprising to do away with British colonialism and seek unification with Greece. The reader views Cyprus, war and morality through the eyes of Hal and Clara Treherne. Hal comes from a long line of military men and falls in love with Clara, whose father does not approve, and soon Hal is relocating his wife and small twin daughters to his new post in Cyprus. Jones brings up many deep issues regarding war, morality, and family in Small Wars and one can extrapolate further out to look at modern day, but rather I prefer to focus on the 1950s and Cyprus as is so beautifully described by Jones. On one hand the reader watches Hal become increasingly infatuated with war, then traumatized and unable to express or truly comprehend the horrors he has witnessed. On the other hand the reader views life through Clara’s eyes, a young British mum with twin girls to raise, living in a foreign country, a husband who is growing more distant and despondent and she herself becomes increasingly fearful. Small Wars takes an in-depth look at what war from a militaristic outlook and that of a civilian and the deep complexities that arise during a time of stress, tension, and trauma that is a direct result of a war. Jones writes an emotionally beautiful novel filled with complex issues, emotions, and of things unspoken, which beg the readers to look within and ask themselves what they would do in either position. While I am uncertain Small Wars is for everyone, it is a period of history not often spoken about and deals with extraordinary issues paralleling society today. I would definitely recommend Small Wars to those readers who enjoy history and to discussion groups.
Sadie Jones’s first novel, The Outcast, won the UK’s coveted Costa First Novel Award and was a finalist for the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She lives in London.
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I received a complimentary copy of Small Wars by Sadie Jones from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.