Late summer 1946- the Wash on the Fenland coast. Into a suspicious and isolated community comes James Mercer, until recently a serving captain in the Engineers, who is now employed in the demolition of redundant gun platforms. A relationship grows between Mercer and the wife and daughter of a soldier who is soon expected home - though he is returning not from active service but from a sentence in military gaol, and his arrival is awaited with anxiety. Mercer also befriends Mathias, a German prisoner of war engaged in similar work who has no wish to be repatriated; and Jacob, a Jew, former glassmaker and camp survivor, of whose devastated journey to this isolated place Mercer gradually learns. He learns, too, of the bond between the German and the Jew and is drawn further into their history as the ex-soldier finally returns and begins to re-establish his overbearing authority. In a place where nothing has changed for decades, the agents of destruction and renewal are at work and everyone begins to search for his or her piece of solid ground. As the summer dies, animosities flare, prejudices and enmities are burnished and the six main characters circle each other like the combatan
Robert Edric was born in 1956. His novels include Winter Garden (1985 James Tait Black Prize winner), A New Ice Age (1986 runner-up for the Guardian Fiction Prize), A Lunar Eclipse, The Earth Made of Glass, Elysium, In Desolate Heaven, The Sword Cabinet, The Book of the Heathen (shortlisted for the 2001 WH Smith Literary Award) and Peacetime (longlisted for the Booker Prize 2002). He is also the author of the widely-acclaimed Song Cycle triology, which comprises Cradle Song, Siren Song and Swan Song.