John Bemrose, playwright, poet, and literary critic with Maclean’s Magazine, and best-selling novelist (The Island Walkers, McClelland and Stewart, 2003) has said,
“A wonderful book...I never had any trouble picking it up after I had to put it down...the story moves very quickly, the writing is taut...beautiful...the war scenes are so good that they felt as if you had been there..it must be published...”
Robert Kroetsch teacher, poet, novelist, winner of the Governor General’s Award for literature for The Studhorse Man, wrote,
“James, James, you have written your magnum opus. Twenty years. Thirty years. You took the long gamble, and you've won. That haunting first sentence prefigures, contains, the whole novel. I have made a fast reading, and even that has kept me busy for days. I read fast in part because the story, the narrative, rips along. And it carries with it the burden of twentieth-century history. ...Let the manuscript go. Send it out to publishers for bids. Let readers read and marvel.”
Professor Dr David Staines, author, critic, editor of The New Canadian Library Series, former Dean of Arts, University of Ottawa, read an early version, and said of the resulting revision,
“You’ve done it, your new novel is an excellent revision...it’s great, I’m delighted....the war scenes are brilliant...it’s very very good...”
Prof. Dr. Richard Mueller, formerly University of Aachen, was a member of the Wehrmacht in 1944-5 and was captured in April, 1945. A former professor of English at the university, he has written,
“It’s a novel of parallel strands. The strands are well chosen, the world historic ones as well as the private ones. The chain of the chapters is wrought well, looking after continuity as well as change in matter and mood.
“The author never forgets to surprise the reader, either by turns of the narrative, or his implicit judgments or by his wit or by downright jokes. He is throughout wonderful in his treatment of nature and scenery, as in his treatment of love and sex.
“He has an expert hand at making characters live, even if their part is short. He passes just and fair judgment, implicit or explicit, like Tolstoy, on friend or foe, although having to deal with Hitler instead of Napoleon is a more trying task.
“Despite the fact that the whole is made up of sharply cut and comparatively small chapters, the reader never loses the feeling of the whole, and at the end that feeling is overwhelming.
AND THIS SPECIAL ENCOMIUM FROM AN AMERICAN VETERAN WHO IS ALSO A FORMER SENIOR HISTORIAN, UNITED STATES ARMY, AND WELL-KNOWN WRITER...
I have just put down the final volume of your manuscript and I must say I think it is magnificent. I felt I was part of the group of people gathered at Stone Cottage in September 1939. Their response to Britain’s needs impressed me with its intelligence. I marvelled at the way you have been able to reach out from far-away Canada to bring in Europeans whom you describe as if you knew them like close friends, except for Hitler and Speer. Your easy familiarity with these people impressed me. You describe very accurately the attitudes of the German general staff officers, one of whom I knew after the war, who was a guest at my wedding.
I was moved to tears by the plight of the young people. The book made me weep for all the young men of the war. The battle scenes brought back terrible memories to me.
I hope it is published and reaches a broad audience. It is certainly the right time in this country for such a book. I shall be first in line to buy a copy.
You may use this letter however you like. I shall recommend the MS to my editor at Ballantine if you wish.
April 14, 2004
Col. Dr. Ernest F. Fisher Jr.,
1701 North Kent Street, Arlington VA