A Foreign Country
Daphne is a 74 year old woman, reserved and tenaciously independent, whose wartime past comes to haunt her in this remarkably accomplished first novel. In the war she worked at the War Office, having to interview italians arrested in dawn raids in London, and had to decide which are/are not fascists and should be interned. As a result, hundreds of italians are embarked on a ship which is torpedoed, and most of them drown. Back in the present, the woman's son is a tv journalist who makes documentaries about wars in far-off places. The novel moves between his coverage of a war in southern republic of the ex-USSR, and his mother's wartime life. His girlfriend, also in TV, starts uncovering fascinating material about the Italians in wartime London, and moves in on his mother. Meanwhile Daphne has also heard from one of the survivors, now in Australia. It 's a compelling exploration of how we edit life, past and present, about how even the smallest actions can reverberate, about how decisions which seem right and understandable at one time and place can be interpreted quite differently in a different time and place. The past is definitely a foreign country.
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