Title: Small Wars
Author: Sadie Jones
Release Date: 1/19/2010
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Small Wars takes place during the 1950’s on the island of Cyprus. It was one of the last British colonies, and they believe that hanging onto it was crucial to the survival of the British Empire. Major Hal Treherne has been assigned to Cyprus, and he brings his wife, Clara, and his two daughters with him. This is a book about the horrors of war, the importance of duty and the necessity of remembering your own humanity.
While Small Wars is about the aftermath of World War II and the conflict between the British and Cypriots, it’s not just about physical and political conflict. Instead, it’s about the small wars – the fights between husbands and wives, and the sad feeling of being alone when there’s someone sitting right next to you.
The book starts out by showing the reader how much Hal and Clara care for each other and the strength of their love. It’s well-placed, as the reader needs this reminder while they are reading the book and watching Clara and Hal’s marriage unravel. It’s useful to know that their relationship wasn’t always this dysfunctional.
Though the background of Small Wars is the war in Cyprus, it is a character driven novel. Both Hal and Clara begin drifting apart in different directions once they arrive on Cyprus. Hal becomes more and more involved in his unit, while he is also horrified by what is going on around him. He bemoans the lack of decency and humanity that comes with war. Meanwhile, Clara is caring for their twin daughters and forging friendships of her own. Jones does a great job making these characters seem real and ensuring that the reader really cares about and is invested in what happens to them. She also doesn’t fall prey to predictability in the storyline, which is very much appreciated.
Small Wars is a well-written book that I recommend for fans of literary fiction, especially if you are interested in the time period. It’s a complex study, yet it’s easy to read and progresses very quickly!