The year is 1942, and young Balbriggan teacher Matt Duggan takes up a job in the small town of Rathisland. War is in the air, romance is on the wing with the skittish Madeleine, rehearsals are in progress for a local staging of "Hamlet", and lawn tennis alternates with Church and classroom politics in the sedentary midlands.This leisured parochial world detonates when a German Stuka crash-lands in the local bog and pilot Josef is sheltered by local Nazi sympathizers before being turned in by whistle-blower Matt, who'd found his love object canoodling with the manly Kraut. The death in captivity by suicide of the latter impels Madeleine's flight to England and Matt's emotional growth.This nuanced coming-of-age story evokes "Emergency Ireland" and rehearses the inner narrative of neutrality as public perception contends with private experience in a series of convergent tableaux. Beautifully judged, slow-paced, and implosive, with divided personal loyalties mirroring the dramas of the wider European stage, this little gem of narrative takes the reader into the heart of the experience that was wartime Ireland.
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