about the book
From a hardscrabble village in Nova Scotia to the collapsing trenches of France, a debut novel about a family divided by World War I.
In the tradition of Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife and Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn, P. S. Duffy’s astonishing debut showcases a rare and instinctive talent emerging in midlife. Her novel leaps across the Atlantic, between a father at war and a son coming of age at home without him.
When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he is instead sent directly into the visceral shock of battle. Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief. With the intimacy of The Song of Achilles and the epic scope of The Invisible Bridge, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a soulful portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.
more praise and reviews
From Booksellers & Librarians:
“I cannot believe this is a debut novel. Incredibly well written, with beautifully executed characters, and so obviously grounded in research without ever being didactic – I loved this book. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a long time.”
–Becky Day, TCC/City of Virginia Beach Joint Use Library
“I could go on and on about this book. This book spoke to me from the very beginning and carried me through all the way to such an emotionally moving ending that left me in tears. Such a soulful story surrounded by a son coming of age and a father placed into a battle he, and others, did not want to fight but were given no choice.”
–Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
“Set within the confines of WW I and the schooner villages of Nova Scotia several characters; fathers, sons, brothers-in law, wives, search to express not only what and who they care for but then how to afford these things protection against terrible odds. This is a coming of age novel in the broadest sense; for the boy, the grandfather, the soldier, the wife, the country and the continent. And it is beautifully expressed.”
-Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA
From other Authors:
“Brilliant. The description of front line action in the trenches is impressively real, and the ending blessedly free from sentimentality. Altogether a remarkable debut.”
–Simon Mawer, author of Trapeze and The Glass Room
“Never once while reading The Cartographer of No Man’s Land did I doubt Duffy’s authority. To call this novel a coming-of-age story is not nearly enough; every character in this beautiful novel – young or old – is faced with a rapidly changing world and the task of finding firm-footing within it. By the end I was so immersed in this story that I swear I could hear water lapping the pilings.”
–Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever
“The Cartographer of No Man's Land is less of a book about maps and World War I than it is about boys becoming men, men discovering who they are, and the connections between fathers and sons. P.S. Duffy spent many years writing this remarkable debut; The Cartographer of No Man's Land was worth the wait.”
–Alexi Zentner, author of Touch
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