This book rewards the slower reader, and is full of gentle, perceptive insights into the mysteries of the human art of war and its effects on people. I found it a little slow in parts but I think that the story needed it.
There is quite a lot about how we see ourselves and how we see the world, and this is encapsulated in the story of Emily who is slowly going blind. The story is more about the characters and their thoughts and feelings, even though there is also a terrifying plot line in which the determined assassin Calley strives to find and kill the ‘hero’ Lacroix.
We are invited to consider how we see people, their motivations and their actions. We are also misled and made to view the characters and the action from different points of view. Some of these deliberate misleadings were a little annoying to me, although I do agree they fitted the overall theme. In particular, I found it a bit disconcerting that every chapter and section began with pronouns only, so one must read one or two sentences, or one or two paragrapghs, or one or two pages, to work out who we are reading about now. Also, some characters (eg Nell), in whom we had invested some time and emotion, completely disappear from the story. I think this is a brave and effective way of introducing realism into the story, but it wouldn’t be my preference.
I highly recommend this book as a reflective, poetic, thoughtful and beautifully written exploration of the ongoing effects of violence.