It’s October 1918 and the war is drawing to a close.

Toussaint Caillet returns home to his wife, Jeanne, and the young daughter he hasn’t seen growing up. He is not coming back from the front line but from the department for facial injuries at Val-de-Grâce military hospital, where he has spent the last two years.

For Jeanne, who has struggled to endure his absence and the hardships of wartime, her husband’s return marks the beginning of a new battle. With the promise of peace now in sight, the family must try to stitch together a new life from the tatters of what they had before.





 Early contender for one of my books of 2023!! That’s the effect this book has had on me! It’s quiet but extremely powerful in the subject matter, and the exploration of how the impact of war continues long after the war has ended.
It looks at a family where the husband has been away fighting, and the wife has been left back home to raise their child not knowing what is happening on the front line, and trying her best to deal with the consequences. When her husband returns home, she’s ecstatic to have him back but instantly sees he’s not the same man that left and coping with that change in personality is tough for them all.

You sense the husband, Touissant, has been through the extremes and finds it very difficult to go back to ‘normal’ life. But he won’t share with his wife what he’s been through – whether to protect them or himself – and it is just brilliantly written and explored through their interactions and the reactions of others the full impact.

The wife, Jeanne, has done all she can over the time he’s been away to protect her child, to keep normality in their life and she longed for, and dreaded, his return. Must be so harrowing to watch someone you love almost shutting themselves off from you and your life in a form of self preservation. The emotional toll on the whole family is harrowing and as you discover more about his life and experiences during the war, your heart just breaks – for them all.

A stunning book which is short in length but will stay long in the mind.