FLANDERS by Patricia Anthony


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From the author of God’s Fires (1997), etc., an epistolary novel whose action takes place between March 2 and December 23, 1916. Former Harvard medical student Travis Lee Stanhope, now a private in the British army, is his company’s crack sharpshooter. From his dugout in the cold, wet, muddy Flanders trenches, he describes his appalling day-to-day experiences in letters to his younger brother, Bobby, back home in Harper, Texas. In his brief replies, Bobby reminds Stanhope of a family life he’d prefer to forget. A lover of poetry, Stanhope is befriended by an officer, Captain Miller, whose double handicap is that he’s both Jewish and homosexual. Stanhope’s companion on patrol is the French-Canadian Pierre LeBlanc, a terrifying assassin who delights in creeping through the dark to slit enemy throats. The authorities come to suspect Stanhope of the rape/murder of a young French girl; his alibi is watertight—he was spying on Miller in a clinch with another officer--but he can’t betray Miller by saying so. Stanhope finds peace only in dreams, which take him to a graveyard where his dead companions in glass-topped graves, watched over by a calico girl in a mausoleum with a blue glass ceiling. Mesmerizing stuff, highly textured and brimming with insight. Why is it science fiction? Well, it isn’t; and attempting to market it as such helps this frustratingly underappreciated author not at all: Science fiction’s loss would be the literary mainstream’s gain.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-441-00528-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Ace/Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998


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