One bitter January night in 1917 five French soldiers, court-martialled for self-inflicted wounds, are pushed, their hands bound, into No-man's-land. A couple of days later, after the German trenches have been overrun, five French copses are given a hasty burial on the site. The youngest of the five condemned men has left a fiancee back home: Mathilde, only daughter of a rich industrialist, and confined since childhood to a wheelchair. The war over, Mathilde sets out to discover what has become of her fiance. 'It has been a battle to avoid writing of Sebastien Japrisot's novel about World War 1 as a kind of latter-day 'War and Peace'. I lost. It is a kind of 'War and Peace'' RICHARD EDER, 'Los Angeles Times' 'A fierce elliptical novel that's both a gripping and philosophical thriller and a highly moving meditation on the emotional consequences of war' MICHIKO KAKUTANI, 'New York Times' 'Only the best historical fiction can make the journey into a distant time and return with a believable sense of how things really were. That Japrisot's book has done so is a mark of his great talent and experience as a writer' PAUL WATKINS, 'Washington Post' 'Clever, highly readable. Neither predictable nor surprising, the denouement, when it finally happens, is shocking, moving and horribly convincing' MICHAEL ESTORICK, 'Literary Review'