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Max Weston, twenty-one and a newly commissioned lance corporal, leaves home for his first posting in central Africa. Fiercely patriotic and completely at home in the army, he is eager to make a difference. He never comes back. His parents Caroline and Andrew are devastated by the death of their only child. The overwhelming love Caroline has always felt for her son is now matched by the intensity of her loss, and as she is borne away on a private ocean of grief the moorings of their marriage begin to come loose. The silence is broken by the arrival of Andrew's mother, Elsa, who at the age of ninety-eight can no longer look after herself. Caroline has never felt good enough for this elegant, cuttingly courteous lady and has lived for years in fear of putting a foot wrong. Now, suddenly, Caroline has the upper hand. As Elsa lies, marooned and disorientated, in the spare room, the past unspools in her mind, throwing up fragments of her anxious childhood in 1920s Richmond - under the shadow of her father, a soldier who came back from the Great War a different man. A stunning, delicate portrait of a family bookended by war, Home Fires explores the legacy of loss, the strictures of class and the long road to redemption.
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Elizabeth Day is the author of Scissors, Paper, Stone. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Evening Standard, the Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, and who is now a feature writer for the Observer. She grew up in Northern Ireland, and currently lives in Putney, London, with her husband. @elizabday www.elizabethdayonline.co.ukReview:
Elizabeth Day writes with unflinching, responsible honesty; I was inspired and enlightened by the deep humanity of Home Fires * Sadie Jones * Day is an empathetic observer. She is meticulous in teaching and dissecting each sentence her characters experience ... The prose is deliberate, precise and bone dry ... Elizabeth Day pursues her study of characters attempting to keep the past at bay with a biblical intensity reminiscent of early Anita Brookner and a prose style closer to that of Pat Barker ... Home Fires conveys a broader version of life with the claustrophobia of emotional repression * Eileen Battersby, Irish Times * Day has created a compelling study of grief, not least the conflicting ways in which the bereaved may wish to remember the dead ... A bold novel, shocking in what it confronts and also in its suggestion that love will, ultimately, survive trauma * Daily Telegraph * Day's great strength is her insight ... An elegant, addictive portrayal of a family at war with its past. A beautifully written novel whose quietly discomfiting tone stays with you for a long while afterwards * Observer * It's to Elizabeth Day's credit that she turns her back on the conventional narrative to explore the realistic consequences of war and violence on the women who, to cite the song to which the novel's title alludes, keep the home fires burning. Day chooses the tough option at every turn, with the result that the novel becomes a powerful and, at times, heartbreaking account of Caroline and Elsa's inability to deal with their crises. The prose is crisp and forthright, particularly when Day is describing the variations of violence, although she has a piercing eye for a telling phrase or a poetic flourish ... Home Fires is powerful and haunting, a thought-provoking testimony to the fortitude of those women and children who cope with the repercussions of war * Irish Examiner * Deeply moving * Woman's Own * Very sad and very lovely * Grazia * An elegant meditation ... Elizabeth Day's lyrical Home Fires comes highly recommended * Viv Groskop, Observer Book of the Year *
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