No Man's Land: Book summary and reviews of No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien

No Man's Land

by Simon Tolkien

No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien X
No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2017
    592 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Inspired by the real-life experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I, Simon Tolkien delivers a perfectly rendered novel rife with class tension, period detail, and stirring action, ranging from the sharply divided society of northern England to the trenches of the Somme.

Adam Raine is a boy cursed by misfortune. His impoverished childhood in turn-of-the-century London comes to a sudden and tragic end when his mother is killed in a workers' protest march. His father, Daniel, is barely able to cope with the loss. But a job offer in the coal mining town of Scarsdale presents one last chance, so father and son head north. The relocation is hard on Adam: the local boys prove difficult to befriend, and he never quite fits in. Meanwhile tensions between the miners and their employer, Sir John Scarsdale, escalate, and finally explode with terrible consequences.

In the aftermath, Adam's fate shifts once again, and he finds himself drawn into the opulent Scarsdale family home where he makes an enemy of Sir John's son, Brice, who subjects Adam to a succession of petty cruelties for daring to step above his station. However, Adam finds consolation in the company of Miriam, the local parson's beautiful daughter with whom he falls in love. When they become engaged and Adam wins a scholarship to Oxford, he starts to feel that his life is finally coming together - until the outbreak of war threatens to tear everything apart.

From the slums of London to the riches of an Edwardian country house; from the hot, dark seams of a Yorkshire coal mine to the exposed terrors of the trenches in France; Adam's journey from boy to man is set against the backdrop of a society violently entering the modern world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The author's visceral account of the Battle of the Somme underscores the individual suffering and courage involved - an unforgettable paean and a gripping war story, with a sensitive perspective on the home front. This compares in depth of feeling and insight to Elizabeth Speller's The First of July (2013) and to Jeff Shaara's well-researched, absorbing To the Last Man (2004)." - Booklist

"The novel is entertaining but hardly tells us anything new about the supposed war to end all wars." - Publishers Weekly

"A blend of a Dickensian epic and Downton Abbey, with the author arriving at a conclusion that could allow sequels." - Kirkus

"Vivid set pieces, notably a wonderful section down a mine, while Adam is an intriguing central character: clever, sincere and, amid the turbulence of early 20th-century England, a determined survivor." - The Daily Mail (UK)

"[Tolkien's] most ambitious work yet ... Adam makes an attractive hero and his story has more than enough colour and energy to keep us reading." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"In this emotionally charged novel, Tolkien brings to the fore the social injustice, poverty and attrition of war in early 20th-century England. The scenes underground in the mines of Scarsdale are every bit as shocking as the harrowing descriptions of trench warfare when Adam and his comrades are repeatedly sent over the top." - The Sunday Express (UK)

This information about No Man's Land shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Simon Tolkien Author Biography

Simon Tolkien was born in England in 1959 and grew up in a small village near Oxford. His grandfather was J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of The Rings. He studied Modern History at Trinity College, Oxford and then went on to become a successful barrister specializing in criminal justice, and, according to British custom, he appeared on behalf of both the prosecution and the defense. He now lives with his wife and two children in Southern California.

Tolkien's first novel, Final Witness, was published by Random House in 2002 and has been translated into eight languages. His second novel, The Inheritance, was published by Minotaur Books in April 2010 and was followed by The King of Diamonds a year later. All Tolkien's novels are published by Harpercollins in the UK. His ...

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