viernes, 17 de octubre de 2008

A valley side too far - Resistance by Owen Sheers

In Resistance Owen Sheers re-writes the history of World War Two. Germany has invaded Britain. The United States, having suffered reversals both east and west, has retreated home to navel gaze. Britain thus is occupied, but has not yet succumbed.

In a remote rural community on the Welsh borders, a whole valley of farming families awakes one morning to find that all the men have gone. No-one knows where. They were recruited, perhaps, into an underground resistance and not one of them let slip any of the details. This, frankly, is incredible.

The demands of farming, however, continue, despite invasions and estrangement. Sarah, though devastated by her husband’s, Tom’s, disappearance, must battle on. There are dogs to see to, lambs to nurture, pigs to feed and foals to train. This permanence of landscape and activity is thus set against massive upheaval. Not only have the men gone, but German troops have appeared, troops who seem to be more on holiday than at war. Again, incredible.

Alex is good with animals and helps at Sarah’s farm, as does Albrecht, an English-speaking, Oxford-educated academic, uncomfortable in military garb. Relationships develop, whilst most involved apparently remain increasingly apologetic.

Owen Sheers also wants us to believe a scenario for conquest where the invaders lay siege to the cities. Again this lacks credibility, since German military success in the Second World War seemed to come when invasions went straight to the centre. Where they lay siege, such as Leningrad or Stalingrad, they failed. But then the whole point is that the history has been reversed.

In a situation where passions and tempers would probably have been frayed, tested at least, Owen Sheers presents a community that seems to survive just as before, minus the local males. Resistance is well written and is very readable, often beautiful. But it does demand that one’s belief be suspended from very high indeed.

View this book on amazon

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