I’d never read Boyd before and I’m not sure that I will do again. It’s not that this isn’t a good book, it is, it’s just that I’m not sure Boyd’s particular brand of dark humour really suits me. The humour got me through this book, and through the, many, tragic events that unfold in it but it also grated with me. It seemed to bring an unbearable levity to events that warranted a more searching approach – but maybe that was just me.

Saying that there wasn’t a lot of war in this book. There was a lot talk about people and around people who were involved with the African part of the war, but a lack of focus on the actual events themselves: the rationale behind them or their contribution to the wider ‘Great’ War. But then that was the point: to the characters involved it seemed like their war was just that – their war.  There was no sense of coherence and purpose, and in the end that is the book’s central theme – the war was incomprehensible and random but still capable despite, or maybe because, of destroying and utterly unravelling lives and relationships.

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