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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Compelling And Deeply Satisfying

Motherland - William Nicholson

Narrated from the point of view of idealistic, conscience-ridden Larry, and played out against a backdrop of some of the twentieth century's most significant historical events, this is the story of three friends who meet when they are all billeted in the same house during the Second World War and subsequently find themselves locked in an inescapable love triangle.

Wounded during Operation Jubilee, the Allies' ill-conceived attempt to invade Dieppe while the Nazi war machine is at its most effective, Larry leaves the army and attends art college, trying unsuccessfully to make a career for himself as a painter. A chance encounter leads to him going out to India on the staff of Mountbatten, the last Viceroy, and nearly getting killed in the violence following independence. On an ecstatic rebound from his near-death experience he enters into a disastrous marriage. While all this is happening his two friends, now husband and wife, have been slowly driving each other to despair.

The most remarkable thing about this novel is the characterisation. These are people you believe in implicitly and their struggle to be good and to understand who they really are – a struggle in which they fail at least as often as they succeed has the granularity of real life . A powerful novel about friendship, duty and passion, Motherland makes compelling and deeply satisfying reading.