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The Road Between Us [Paperback]

Nigel Farndale
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Feb 2014

1939: In a hotel room overlooking Piccadilly Circus, two young men are arrested. Charles is court-martialled for 'conduct unbecoming'; Anselm is deported home to Germany for 're-education' in a brutal labour camp. Separated by the outbreak of war, and a social order that rejects their love, they must each make a difficult choice, and then live with the consequences.

2012: Edward, a diplomat held hostage for eleven years in an Afghan cave, returns to London to find his wife is dead, and in her place is an unnerving double - his daughter, now grown up. Numb with grief, he attempts to re-build his life and answer the questions that are troubling him. Was his wife's death an accident? Who paid his ransom? And how was his release linked to Charles, his father?

As dark and nuanced as it is powerful and moving, The Road Between Us is a novel about survival, redemption and forbidden love. Its moral complexities will haunt the reader for days after the final page has been turned.

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The Road Between Us + The Blasphemer
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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (13 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055277698X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552776981
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nigel Farndale is the author of The Blasphemer, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa Novel Award. His previous books include Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Whitbread Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He was born and raised in the Yorkshire Dales, read philosophy as a postgraduate at Durham University and worked as a farmer for a few years before moving to London to become a journalist. He now lives on the Hampshire-Sussex border with his wife and their three children. His new novel, The Road Between Us, is dedicated to them.

Product Description


"Rich, unsparing and exquisitely textured...Farndale possesses the implacable emotional ferocity of a first-rate novelist...Achingly poignant." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Farndale is an exceptional storyteller... An elegant and atmospheric fiction about survival and redemption." (Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler)

"Nigel Farndale's magnificent novel. Tender, chilling and life-affirming, this book made me want to shout from the rooftops." (Emily Maitlis Mail on Sunday)

"The beauty of this novel lies in Farndale's ability to wrap some testing moral questions around a fantastic story...A book that has at its core a passionate examination of the meaning of love." (Psychologies)

"Two stories set some 70 years apart unfold in tandem in this big, busy novel whose themes range from the mysteries of memory to forbidden desire of all shades....As for the riddle of how these two tales connect, that's what drives the novel and provides it with an unexpected twist." (Daily Mail)

Book Description

From the author of the acclaimed The Blasphemer, a stunning new novel ranging from forbidden love in World War Two to the painful return of a man kept hostage in today's Afghanistan.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping and Thought-Provoking Read 20 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 1939, just before the outbreak of war, two young men: Charles Northcote, an officer in the RAF, and his German lover, Anselm, an artist at the Slade, are in an hotel room overlooking Piccadilly Circus after spending the night together, when they are disturbed and arrested by RAF police officers. Charles is court-martialled for 'conduct unbecoming', and Anselm is sent home to Germany where he is convicted of 'degenerate behaviour' and sentenced to hard labour in an education camp.

In 2012, Edward Northcote, a British diplomat, is returned home to London after being captured and held hostage for eleven years in Afghanistan. In hospital, Edward, barely alive, sees his beautiful wife, Frejya, coming into his room, but she quickly disappears when he calls her name. This is because it is not Frejya that Edward has seen, but his daughter, Hannah, no longer the nine-year-old that Edward left behind, but a beautiful twenty-year-old woman. Frejya, Edward soon discovers, has died. (Not a spoiler - we learn this early in the story) .

When Edward returns home, he struggles to cope with the knowledge that he will never see his beloved wife again: "Her absence is like a presence now, as tangible as an indentation, as if she has just risen from the bed.." and he also finds it difficult to come to terms with the fact that his daughter is now a grown woman. Before long, Edward needs answers to some questions: firstly there is Frejya's death - was it really an accident? And why, after eleven years of captivity was Edward finally released - was a ransom paid? And was his release somehow connected with his father Charles?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Farndale Book Yet 11 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've followed Farndale's career with interest since he started writing for the Telegraph and have found his fictional work improving from novel to novel. This is, in my opinion, his best yet.

This novel combines the narrative power and darkness of a thriller with the intelligence and elegant writing of a literary novel. It moves between past and present seamlessly. And it does something which I didn't think was possible: finds something new to say about the concentration camps. I was gripped and moved from beginning to end, twice missing my tube stop I was so engrossed!

A spanking good read I can't wait for his next....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend reading it.... 22 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is a lot to like in that well-written novel, the stories of a father and his son separated by half a century. Charles, the father, is a young RAF pilot and artist on the eve of WW2, in love with another man, a young German art student. When their illegal love affair is discovered Charles is court-martialled and his lover Anselm sent back to Germany to be reeducated. The son Edward, six decades later, is released after 11 years spent held by the Talibans and has to recover and readjust to life in Britain and come to terms with the fact that his adored wife has died and that the daughter he always remembered as a nine-year-old is now twenty and looks uncannily like her deceased mother. As is always the case in such novels I found that one story was much more powerful than the other one. As far as I am concerned I loved Charles and Anselm 's stories and however disturbing the scenes at the concentration camp where Anselm is incarcerated were I couldn't tear myself from the page when reading about either Charles or Anselm. Not so unfortunately with Edward's half of the tale. I don't really know what it was but right from the start I felt detached and couldn't come to care for Edward or his daughter. Later on I grew uneasy with the turn their story was taking. The sexual ambiguity between father and daughter, the fact that it seemed Hannah was willing to take her dead mother's place in full really unsettled me and I didn't care for that part of the novel. The whole however is definitely worth reading and the prose is often quite beautiful. A book to recommend!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Universal Love Story 10 Sep 2013
By Chlofox
The Road Between Us is a novel which boasts many great achievements (beautiful prose, original subject matter, powerful insights into the human condition) , but its greatest achievement of all is the creation of a (homosexual) love story which reaches beyond itself to the realms of the universal. Touching and tortured in equal measure, this is a novel which will have your heart in its hands until the very last page. Farndale is a wonderful writer and, better still, a thoughtful human being.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read 29 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I wrote a review back in January 2011 for Nigel Farndale's book The Blasphemer. Overall I loved it, but I did have some niggles, mainly around the modern story line. However, others plainly loved it too, because the book was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa Novel Award and (perhaps an even greater accolade?) was selected for the Richard and Judy Bookclub. But I had absolutely no reservations about this one - it absolutely blew me away.

The structure is broadly similar - a modern story and a wartime one, running side-by-side but not in strictly alternating chapters. The opening is striking - two naked young men, in a hotel room overlooking Piccadilly Circus, one an English pilot officer (Charles Northcote), the other a German artist (Anselm). The year is 1939, and their night is ended by the arrival of two RAF police officers. The story then moves to the present day - Kandahar province, present day, and an English man (Edward Northcote) released after over eleven years in captivity.

The wartime story is a harrowing one - Charles loses his commission for "conduct unbecoming", his lover Anselm is sent home to Germany and sentenced to a labour camp. The modern story is equally strong - Edward struggles to come to terms with the end of his captivity, finds that his wife has died, and he has a complicated relationship with his daughter Hannah.

Charles' ongoing story unfolds - he does everything possible to track down Anselm, and it's an engrossing story, crossing war torn Europe, touched with horror, cruelty and disturbing images. Meanwhile Edward wrestles with the relationship with his daughter, and with the knowledge that a ransom might have been paid to secure his release.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Still reading it, but a gripping yarn!
I'm a member of a book club, so this was chosen for us by one of the members. I think I'm about half way through and love this book! One you can't put down.
Published 14 days ago by Annabel
5.0 out of 5 stars Capitavating
Put aside any preconceptions, an enthral long read that keeps its secrets until the last few pages. Warms your heart and instils hope.
Published 3 months ago by P Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars One not to be missed
This book highlights man's inhumanity to man but also shows how love can keep us going. A fantastic read and one to be savoured. I did not want to finish it.
Published 3 months ago by Marian Radford
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road Between Us
Truly a beautiful book. Love is turned on its head, but in a thought provoking (never judgmental) way. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing story
This is an excellent mystery set in two periods and a fascinating story. The author came to our book group and said it was based on his grandfather's experiences in WW1.
Published 4 months ago by Alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it a true story?
From beginning to ens it was a great story. It was like watching a film. It was very gripping all the way through.
Published 5 months ago by tonynwuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing dilemmas down the road
It is a question that has had to be faced by more fathers than would dare to admit: How do you interpret and react to an erection stimulated by the sight and or touch of your... Read more
Published 5 months ago by St Remeze
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and thought provoking novel
Having really enjoyed the Blasphemer I was worried that using a similar, time shifted format, with a different war, for the Road Between Us would be a bit too samey. Read more
Published 6 months ago by R. A. Angel
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, engrossing and thought-provoking
Often the horrors of old wars struggle to remain vital, trapped in too-familiar black and white footage, but by connecting the deprivations suffered by a modern-day hostage in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Stewart P
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Farndale's previous book and was looking forward to The Road Between Us. I was not disappointed. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Nurse Ratched
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