Book of the Week

Each week, we'll let you know about the new releases the editors of O and couldn't stop reading.
The Cartographer of No Man's Land: A Novel

The Cartographer of No Man's Land: A Novel

384 pages; Liveright
At the start of World War I, quiet, artistic Angus MacGrath is a cartographer in a sleepy coastal town in Nova Scotia. Soon, however, his closest friend and brother-in-law Ebbin enlists in the Canadian army and goes missing in France. Angus's wife, Hettie, is devastated; she and Ebbin were "like twins" growing up. Partly to console her, partly to do his duty and partly to try to uncover the truth of Ebbin's disappearance, Angus joins up himself, and soon finds himself slogging through the world's most dangerous trenches. Debut author P.S. Duffy captures the brutal intensity of the war in his delicate, atmospheric prose (star shells light the sky "with a cascading trail of sparks"), but it's the parallel story of how Hettie and Angus's 14-year-old son survive in his absence—while protecting an innocent German school teacher—that keeps you riveted. Be it at home in the village or deep in a battle, "Life isn't without much risk," Angus comes to realize, as does his family. But it's our response to those risks that draws the map of our character.
— Andrea Walker