It is April 1945, and the small provincial town of Lohenfelde is about to be overrun by the Allied Third Army. Huddled in the vaults of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Museum to escape the artillery bombardment, are Heinrich Hoffer, the Acting Director, and his three colleagues- two women and one man, underground and under siege. Their petty rivalries and resentments surface quickly in this claustrophobic confinement, and the vaults become a stage for an intense psychological drama of secret histories and shared terror, as the four prepare themselves for their fate. Above the ground, picking through the rubble, is Corporal Neal Parry, who wishes he was back in West Virginia studying art and not dodging snipers in another hostile German town. When he finds an exquisite painting in what remains of the museum vaults, he is immediately reconnected with a lost world of beauty and order- the world of art. It is this small 18th-century oil - the appropriately titled Landscape with Ruins - that is the poignant link between the young American soldier and the four charred corpses he finds at the same time. As the narratives interweave, the story of the painting reveals the hidden story of Herr Hoffer an
Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956. His first novel, Ulverton, was published in 1992, and he has written four other novels - most recently No Telling - a collection of stories and three books of poetry. He lives in France with his wife and three children.