Jean Rouaud
2012 |

Winner of the Prix Goncourt A New York Times Notable Book of the Year The setting may be the rainy lower Loire Valley of the 1950s, but it is the WW I battlefields of Artois, Meuse, Lorraine, and Yser that form the emotional backdrop to this poignant testament to the vitality of life that death cannot dim. Fields of Glory begins as a collection of utterly charming reminiscences of the eccentricities of family elders told by an unnamed and indeterminately aged narrator. In pure and graceful prose, Rouaud describes crotchety grandfather Burgaud with his equally difficult car, a cramped and leaky CV2, and maiden great-aunt Marie with her card file of saints—"A prefatory catalogue of terrifying symptoms refers the reader to the saint specializing in the corresponding disorder. The work of a lifetime." It is in the midst of this comedy of daily life that the melancholy subtext of three generations slowly emerges: the stories of the two young men who were casualties of the Fields of Glory and the family that remains to remember them.

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Fields of Glory

A Novel