Holly Stanton’s grandfather was a spy. In Berlin in September 1939; in Norway when the Germans invaded. Sailed back to Orkney by a brave Norwegian, whose family was killed in retaliation. And he kept a diary.
Holly has always known that. It’s the family story. But when her father finally passes on a transcript of the diary, she finds the ‘brave Norwegian’ has a name. He is real. But why was a spy writing a diary at all?
Part war-time thriller, part exploration of the ethics of story-telling, Reconciliation slips between Occupied Norway and Cambridge, London and the Highlands during the Iraq War and its aftermath.
Based on truth but laced with errors and lies, as each layer of the story peels away, we discover just how easily we have been misled. Stories always lie, but sometimes they are the only truth we have. Reconciliation is a clever, exciting and – ironically – honest account of its own bad faith.
‘Reconciliation opens with an intriguing apology by the author ‘for the extent to which my characters fail to resemble their real-life models’. This indicates a central concern of Guy Ware’s novel: namely, how the fiction writer appropriates ‘facts’ to create a story. It’s a preoccupation that informs the book’s highly original narrative structure … a memorable and inventive meditation on reconciliation, in the sense of both settling differences and squaring the facts.’ —Tom Williams, The Literary Review
‘Reconciliation consolidates Guy Ware’s reputation as a writer whose observations of modern life are witty, precise and provocative. It’s brilliant. Read it and see for yourself.’ —Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, Read and Review
‘Absent, slippery or suspect ‘facts’ are central to this unapologetically knotty novel.’ —Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
‘Stories passed down through generations can shape a family but are also subject to the distorting lenses of memory and perspective. Author Guy Ware’s grandfather worked for MI6, escaped from Norway in 1940 and kept a diary, but his new book Reconciliation (Salt, £8.99) is fiction. It follows Holly Stanton, whose grandfather was a spy and happened to be in Norway when the Germans invaded, and who kept a diary. It’s a well-known family story but it only becomes tangible to Holly when she finally gets her hands on the diary. Moving between various real-life events, each laced with errors and lies, Ware demonstrates to the reader how easily we can be misled as he explores the ethics of storytelling in this wartime thriller.’ —Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue North
‘This ingenious novel succeeds in being both a highly readable story of second world war derring-do and its aftermath and a clever Celtic knot of a puzzle about writing itself… Just who is telling this story? There are different narrators, but verbal tripwires indicate that all is not as it seems: impossible echoes from one person’s account to the next alert us to the, yes, fictional nature of what we are being drawn into and pull us up short. The complexity of who saw what and wrote what is maddening but also exhilarating, and very funny in places.’ —Jane Housham, The Guardian
‘This is the Theatre of the Absurd, but crossed with Whitehall farce—Samuel Beckett meets Brian Rix … Guy Ware’s absurdist “bureaucracy thriller” is a fascinating addition to contemporary fiction.’ —David Rose, Quadrapheme
‘… a brilliantly written, often hilarious, frequently delightful, taut page turner with more depth than you might at first suppose. Like Tom McCarthy by way of Douglas Adams’ —Martin Koerner
‘The best debut novel I have read in years.’ —Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian