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The Cartographer of No Man's Land

The Cartographer of No Man's Land

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A little-known subject to me was WWI and Vimy Ridge, especially Canada’s involvement in it. Too, I’ve not read many war stories, usually veering away to more peripheral stories of courage or metaphorical battles. But this book, it grabbed me.
It alternates between the home front in Nova Scotia and the front in France where the protagonist is for most of the novel. There was a chunk of the book that dragged for me–from 25% to 50%–but then it really got rolling, and all the setup was worth it! The Nova Scotia parts were rich in period detail, in the language of the fishermen, in the daily habits of small town coastal folk, and this gave a very solid foundation for the protagonist’s torment of being away and on his mission to find his brother-in-law, who’d gone missing.
The France scenes were rich in detail too, from the eerily peaceful village found after winning a bloody ridge, to the farm life still going on, to the vision of thousands of dead bodies left for months undisturbed in a valley. There were definitely poignant parts such as these, that might be disturbing for some, but I found them arresting, like they really captured the moment, the frame of mind, the despair.
Especially in Angus’ mind while on the front, as you listen to his internal battles, there is a definite pathos, one that even a mid-30s single woman from California can relate to! Excellently written, structured, paced–not too dense, but it does take some time to absorb. And a quick-flipped, but satisfying, ending.
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a novel with some substance, but without a pushy message; it is the journey of a man’s heart, which has been to purgatory and back. ( )
  MargaretPinardAuthor | May 23, 2015 |
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