Small Wars, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Hal Treherne is a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career.

Impatient to see action, his other deep commitment is to Clara, his beautiful 'red, white and blue girl', who sustains him as he rises through the ranks.

When Hal is transferred to the Mediterranean, Clara, now his wife, and their baby daughters join him.

But Cyprus is no 'sunshine posting', and the island is in the heat of the Emergency: the British are defending the colony against Cypriots - schoolboys and armed guerrillas alike - battling for enosis, union with Greece.

The skirmishes are far from glorious and operations often rough and bloody.

Still, in serving his country and leading his men, Hal has a taste of triumph.

Clara shares his sense of duty. She must settle down, make no fuss, smile. But action changes Hal, and Clara becomes fearful - of the lethal tit-for-tat beyond the army base, and her increasingly distant husband.

The atrocities Hal is drawn into take him further from Clara; a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come. The prizewinning and bestselling author of The Outcast returns with an emotionally powerful portrait of a marriage in extremis and a world-view in question.

Sadie Jones has produced a passionate, gut-wrenching and brilliantly researched depiction of a 'small war' with devastating consequences; and in doing so, raises important questions that resonate profoundly today.


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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

I got this out of the library after demolishing her first book, The Outcast, in almost one sitting. This is a very different book, but equally good. The claustrophobic atmosphere of army life is well captured, and the writing is superb. The scene on the beach with the horses will stay with me for a long time. I'm also really impressed with how well Sadie Jones gets into the minds of her characters, which makes the ending, when the husband does something so out of character feel like a real shock. All in all excellent reading.

Review by

I was a little disappointed by this book. I liked the idea of exploring what happens when Clara accompanies her British soldier husband Hal to Cyprus during the emergency, with their twin daughters, and focusing on the way in which this puts their relationship under pressure. I particularly liked the idea that the story would focus on the ‘small wars’ ‘fought’ on the domestic front. I can’t put my finger on the reason why I didn’t like this as much as I expected I would – the story was solid and the dilemmas faced by Hal and Clara realistic and poignant, with disconcerting contemporary parallels. However, I just felt detached from the characters. I wasn’t drawn me into the story and I couldn’t share their concerns to the extent that I had hoped, and so the book had less impact on me than it otherwise could have.

Review by

I enjoyed The Outcast and liked this too, but I think I enjoyed The Outcast more. The pacing seemed a bit off, going very slowly for a long time, then wildly speeding up. I expect that it was necessary to getting the plot to work, but felt that there were long stretches of unexplored relationships and nothing really happening. Not bad, I just feel the author has more in her.

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