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In the Light of Morning Hardcover – 13 Feb 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (13 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434022748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434022748
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 553,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Tim Pears has made the battle zone of family life in provincial England his own fertile fictional terrain…The novel succeeds in illuminating a pivotal moment in world history, while casting a steady light back on England…Rather like Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, this is an intimate tale of a few individuals poised at a moment when one epoch gives way to another." (Maya Jaggi Guardian)

"[T]he characters are beautifully and economically drawn, and he is excellent on the sights and especially the smells of the landscape – the beauty even of a war-torn land." (The Times)

"Brilliantly nail-biting. Tim Pears tackles the horrors and ambiguity of war with his usual deft observance, in this depiction of a largely forgotten World War II slideshow in Eastern Europe." (Daily Mail)

"Superb … a thought provoking, lyrical and deeply humane book" (Sunday Business Post)

"Pears’s prose, with its sensuousness and subtlety, is a fine vehicle for the intelligent, unsentimental tale he tells." (Sunday Times)

"[A] compelling, heartbreaking book" (Sunday Herald)

"The author’s depiction of this psychological turmoil is delicate and respectful … a fine novel with wide appeal" (Irish Examiner)

"I have never failed to be impressed by the quality of his writing and the inventiveness of his story lines…The book unfolds with some remarkably well-written set-pieces. Relationships are clarified, enemy (and allied) plots are uncovered and the inevitable conflict eventually occurs with a great disruption to souls and bodies." (A Common Reader)

Book Description

[T]he characters are beautifully and economically drawn, and he is excellent on the sights and especially the smells of the landscape – the beauty even of a war-torn land. The Times

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
May 1944 in the midst of the Second World War, and Lieutenant Tom Freedman is parachuted into Slovenia. He is an interpreter in intelligence and is part of a small team of British military sent to co-coordinate the delivery of military supplies by air to the partisan groups operating in the area. His rôle is also to liaise with the various groups and is escorted to numerous units to organise drops of equipment. Freedman was plucked from academia and adapts with difficulty to the demands of the harsh and occasionally brutal nature of the partisan conflict with the occupying forces in Slovenia and the wider Yugoslavia.
There is very little back-story to the narrative – the focus is on the immediate marches from one group of partisans to another and his relationship with members of his partisan escort team. There is an element of romance with female partisans, even though the author hints quite strongly that Tom has unacknowledged homosexual inclinations. There are issues of political double-dealing among the military missions to complicate the project. The tale rattles along and focuses on the emotions of Tom, a sensitive and introspective young man, in surviving this harsh environment, knowing that he and his small band of soldiers will face immediate execution if caught by the occupying Nazi forces or the similarly brutal Home Guard. Tom grows into this challenging task as the tale unfolds, and the reader is fully engaged with the story and the cast of credible characters.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
With his book In The Light of the Morning Tim Pears has turned his mind to the Second World War, and in particular the battles in the Balkans where the Nazi invasion of former-Yugoslavia was sternly resisted by bands of Partisans.

The book opens in the early summer, 1944 with three British soldiers flying over Slovenia about to be dropped by parachute into a forest; their task to bring aid and assistance to the many Yugoslavian Partisans who are defending the eastern part of their country against the invading Germans. Lieutenant Tom Friedman is our focus – a young academic, convinced of the vital nature of his task, but already missing his book-lined rooms and the quiet life of Oxford.

Tom is accompanied by a belligerent Major, Jack Farwell who has taken an instant dislike to Tom, but their other companion is a far more amenable radio operator, Corporal Sid Dixon, a farm-worker from Devon who has become a master of the airwaves.

The parachute drop goes well. The supplies that accompanied them are carted off in farm wagons and the men are guided away from the drop site by a group of Partisans who celebrate their arrival with vodka and toasts, “To Tito! To Churchill!”.

The men soon find themselves in the hands of a Partisan Major, Jovan Vascovič who tells them of the need for more medical supplies. Their main task is to radio British bases and arrange for drops of food, medicine and military equipment so that the Partisans have what they need to prosecute the battles against the Nazis. Major Jack on the other hand wants to see some action by storming off into Nazi-occupied areas to disrupt their supply routes with explosives and guerilla attacks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
It is May 1944 and three British parachutists are dropped into occupied Slovenia. There is Major Jack Farwell, a confident and rather brash former MP- the eldest of the trio at fifty eight – young Devon farm worker, Sid Dixon, who is the radio operator, and Lieutenant Tom Freedman; who previously worked in intelligence and who is an academic gifted with languages. They are welcomed by the Partisans, who they are supposed to assist in their resistance against the Germans. Yet, things turn out to be less clear cut than Tom previously imagined.

Before long, Tom finds that he is unexpectedly the senior British officer in a small group, which contains Sid, but not Jack, as well as the charismatic Commander Jovan and beautiful Marija; a Jewish intellectual whose husband has abandoned her to go into hiding. Marija’s feelings for Tom, as well as Jovan’s obvious admiration for the brave and resourceful Marija, cause tensions in a group beset by its own half humorous bantering over ethnic differences within the Partisans - Jovan being a Serb, while the majority of the group are Slovenes. Tom himself has his own conflicting emotions about both Marija and Jovan, who he is drawn to as both a friend and a man. Indeed, the country, and the situation, is so much more complicated than Tom first imagined, with many realising that the war is coming to a close and the inevitable post-war squabbling over borders rearing its ugly head. What initially seemed a straight forward mission of helping the Partisans to blow up the railway network suddenly seems to have different connotations and Tom wonders whether he has merely been a distraction for Jack’s real mission.

As well as being both a novel about the Balkan war and people, plus a love story, this is also a snapshot of a country under occupation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 13 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Much has been written about the French Resistance in WWII: Pears expands the field by situating this amongst Slovenian partisans in the Balkans. Opening in May 1944, this gives us a day-by-day account of three British saboteurs dropped by parachute into occupied Yugoslavia, and their involvement with various resistance groups.

I loved this novel for its subtlety and emotional intelligence. There’s a simple sincerity about the prose and, overwhelmingly, a lack of cynicism (without tipping over into sentimentality) which I found very refreshing. Pears writes beautifully in an unobtrusive style which left me feeling that I, too, had been living rough in the mountains of the Balkans.

At the heart of this book is the muted love triangle between one of the British agents, the charismatic Serb partisan commander, and a beautiful woman - but Pears shifts the angles so that this resists the more usual outcomes. There’s also a poignancy in revisiting the Balkans at this time given its more modern history, and a telling echo when we arrive at places like Sarajevo and Mostar.

So this is an emotional and utterly gripping read with emotional depth. Pears has done his research so that everything feels authentic, but then imbues it all with a very human imagination so that the story feels organic rather than contrived.

Tim Pears has somehow sneaked beneath my reader’s radar up until now – but after reading this, I’ll definitely be checking out his back catalogue. Highly recommended.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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