The Cartographer of No Man's Land

by P. S. Duffy

Historical Fiction Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on The Cartographer of No Man's Land

Moving, convincing and superbly written, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land is a novel you feel privileged to have read. From the stormy turbulent ocean off of Nova Scotia, to the tormented seas of mud that make up No Man’s Land in 1917; the story sucks you in and swallows you whole as you sink into its rich fertile depths. Strong, steadfast Angus and his son Simon Peter battle to keep their connection, their love alive while divided by the sea they live for. You find that you need the two places, the two stories; home becomes an anchor in the storm of war. The author has a deft touch, she is able to describe both the full horror of battle and simultaneously the beauty that an artists eye can capture and create. Written with care, love and attention to detail, this novel will bring a breath of understanding, a surge of respect and the promise of knowledge that you will remember…you won’t forget. ~ Liz Robinson

 

A 'Piece of Passion' from the author...

'The initial inspiration for this story was an image that came to me of a boy racing over the rocks to his father, drifting offshore, just beyond his reach. I knew it was in Nova Scotia, a place that holds a piece of my heart. That scene, which I didn’t put in the book, led me to imagine a broken relationship between a father and a son who adored him. A few months later, the prologue came to me and I just wrote it down as fast as I could. Some readers have commented that it is meant to be an idyllic prelude to the upheaval of the war. But I wrote it long before I knew the book would be set during the war. The prologue captures a moment out of time, the kind of moment that you carry with you all your life; and for me, it carried the entire book within it. Then came the effort to understand the fractured father-son relationship, which I knew was somehow related to the father’s war experience. Once I began tunneling down from secondary to primary sources on the war, I was caught up in it myself and everything changed. I began to see my characters there, and new ones appeared and the backstory became the actual story, guided always by the prologue—a father and son in a rowboat in a moment out of time.
 
The story is seen through the eyes of Angus MacGrath on the Western Front and his 13-year-old son, Simon Peter, back home in their coastal village in Nova Scotia. It is 1916, and Angus, a frustrated artist and skilled navigator and sailor, finds himself lost and without clear purpose. When his best friend and wife’s brother, Ebbin Hant, goes missing at the Front, Angus defies his pacifist-leaning father and enlists. Hoping to find information about Ebbin and assured a position as a military cartographer in London, Angus is instead sent to the front lines with the infantry. There he begins a journey with profound consequences for himself and those he loves. At home Simon Peter is coming of age without his father and learning that the world can shift at a moment’s notice.  It is a story about holding steady in the face of the unknown, the delicate balance between truth and lies, and the grace of connection to one’s self and others. The Cartographer of No Man’s Land is a book to take your time with, and one that many people say they want to read again the minute they have finished.' - P.S. Duffy, author of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land

Liz Robinson

The Cartographer of No Man's Land Synopsis

'Trust me. I know where I'm going.' Angus MacGrath, artist, sailor and navigator, is lost―caught between a remote wife, a disapproving father and a son seeking guidance. Far from his coastal village in Nova Scotia, war rages in Europe, and among the missing is Angus's adventurous brother-in-law whose unknown fate sets Angus on an uncharted course, with profound consequences for those he loves and those he comes to love. Angus defies his pacifist upbringing and enlists to find his wife's brother. Though assured a safe job as a military cartographer in London, he is assigned instead to the infantry to the blood-soaked mud of France, where his search begins. At home his young son, once wide-eyed about the war, must navigate uncertain loyalties in a village succumbing to war fever. Separated by the ocean they once sailed together, Angus and his son search for what it takes to survive, each trying in his own way to return to the other. Every character in this exquisitely told story seeks to protect what matters most in the face of war's upheaval.

The Cartographer of No Man's Land Press Reviews

' - an addition to the literary canon of World War I... Turning the final page, I wanted to go back to the beginning, if only to contemplate a writer who has such a broad and compassionate understanding of the human condition.'
Frances Itani, The Washington Post

 

'Duffy's vivid descriptions illuminate war's transformative effect in fresh ways. Well nuanced characters and carefully choreographed (but still surprising) situations make this a strong debut.'
Publishers Weekly

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781910183069
Publication date: 03/03/2015
Publisher: Myrmidon Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781905802982
Publication date: 20/05/2014
Publisher: Myrmidon Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781910183069
Publication date: 3rd March 2015
Author: P. S. Duffy
Publisher: Myrmidon Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 384 pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Historical fiction, First World War fiction,

About P. S. Duffy

P.S. Duffy grew up in Baltimore, but spent many summers sailing in Nova Scotia, which she regards as her second home. She is a science writer for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, where she lives with her husband. The Cartographer of No Man's Land is her first novel. As a US citizen, conscious of the status of Vimy Ridge as an icon of Canadian history, she approached her subject with some trepidation until an 'old salt' from the town of Mahone Bay told her: 'You do it. You write about Vimy. These young fellers forget. Don't you be ...

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