November 2013 Indie Next List
“The Great War has inspired great literature and this novel takes its place in the ranks of unforgettable World War I novels. A pacifist, Angus finds himself at the front while searching for his brother-in-law and discovers that he must not only confront the horrors of combat but also every value he holds. At home, a Canadian fishing village is also being devastated by the results of the war. Duffy deftly portrays the total destruction wrought by combat. A powerful and poignant debut.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
A Guardian Best Book of the Year
Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award
A Dayton Literary Peace Prize in Fiction Finalist
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
An ABA/Indies Introduce Debut Dozen Selection
The lauded masterpiece about a family divided by World War I, hailed as “brilliant . . . altogether a remarkable debut” (Simon Mawer, author of The Glass Room).
From a village in Nova Scotia to the trenches of France, P. S. Duffy’s astonishing debut showcases a rare talent emerging in midlife.
When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he is instead sent directly into battle. Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a town torn by grief. Selected as both a Barnes & Noble Discover pick and one of the American Bookseller Association’s Debut Dozen, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a soulful portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.
About the Author
P. S. Duffy grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and spent summers sailing in Nova Scotia. She is a science writer for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband.
Compelling...Turning the final page, I wanted to go back to the beginning, if only to contemplate a writer who has such a broad and compassionate understanding of the human condition.
— Frances Itani
Debut author P.S. Duffy captures the brutal intensity of the war in her delicate, atmospheric prose (star shells light the sky "with a cascading trail of sparks"), but it's the parallel story of how Hettie and Angus's 14-year-old son survive in his absence—while protecting an innocent German school teacher—that keeps you riveted.
A vivid debut novel about war, families and friendship in a Nova Scotia fishing village…a deep and vivid exploration of the human heart and the high seas, reminiscent of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News.
Duffy’s well-researched account of bloody 1917 battle of Vimy Ridge should satisfy even the most die-hard of WWI buffs.
Essential reading for historical fiction lovers and war story fans alike; very highly recommended.
Physical and emotional geography are beautifully rendered, and Duffy’s vivid descriptions illuminate war’s transformative effect in fresh ways. Well-nuanced characters and carefully choreographed (but still surprising) situations make this a strong debut.
Both settings come to life
thanks to Duffy’s full realization—each character, however minor, is a distinct
personality…her patience in developing the cast of characters makes for an
unusually rich novel.
To call this novel a coming-of-age story is not nearly enough; every character in this beautiful novel—young or old—is faced with a rapidly changing world and the task of finding firm-footing within it. Never sentimental, Duffy knows where to find the humanity at the heart of even the smallest gestures. By the end I was so immersed in this story that I swear I could hear water lapping the pilings.
— Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever
A graceful, dignified look at all the ways in which war is endured: from the stories people tell to keep themselves alive at the front, to the fault lines that threaten the home-front bond. This is a moving and memorable debut.
— Jessica Francis Kane, author of The Report
A haunting meditation on family, friendship, and sacrifice. . . . A powerful debut.
— Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars