FIGHT IN THE MOUNTAINS by Christian Bernhardsen


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Norway, April 1945: resistance, death in victory, disillusion and hate an ambitious scheme for a small book with some sharp scenes, a somewhat ragged narrative, and much (characters, concepts) that is merely tentative. Central is sixteen-year-old Christian, admiring older brother Bent, envying Bent and still older Tom their masculine solidarity when the three are hiding out in a cave after a curiously unsuccessful sabotage mission; but there is tension also; could Tom be the traitor? The ensuing flight, involving a train derailment that kills hundreds of German troops and a trek into the mountains with Free Norwegian Forces, is taut and tense, and the accidental death of the brakeman who befriended them he's hit by a parachute drop that didn't open--is a minor mishap that stands for the tragedies of war. But Christian is naive as the army camp mascot and overweighted as the universal innocent, while the wind-up--Tom and Bent killed, post-armistice euphoria in town, traitors quartered in Christian's house--is too much too fast. (Why the mission failed and Tom's relation to the traitor are tucked in near the end--when it doesn't matter any more.) Uneven fiction that fails also as object-lesson: ""don't hate"" is easier said than done.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World