A beautifully evocative tale of two men whose lives are brought together in tragedy - for lovers of books by Kevin Powers and Sebastian Barry.
There is nothing more important than love and refuge.
Egypt, 1941. Only hours after disembarking in Alexandria, William Marsh, an Australian corporal at twenty-one, is face down in the sand, caught in a stoush with the Italian enemy. He is saved by James Kelly, a childhood friend from Sydney and the last person he expected to see. But where William escapes unharmed, not all are so fortunate.
William is sent to supervise an army depot in the Western Desert, with a private directive to find an AWOL soldier: James Kelly. When the two are reunited, James is recovering from an accident, hidden away in the home of an unusual family - a family with secrets. Together they will risk it all to find answers.
Soon William and James are thrust headlong into territory more dangerous than either could have imagined.
Staff Review by Ben Hunter
I thought this novel had promise when I picked it up after a meet-and-greet with the author, Nigel Featherstone, little did I know just how much this book has to give. Bodies of Men transports readers to the sands of Egypt in 1941 where a convoy of Australian recruits is ambushed by Italians. Pinned down in the firefight, twenty-one-year-old corporal William March is rescued by an estranged figure of his childhood, James Kelly. Marsh is then assigned to a desert outpost far from the action of Tobruk and is quietly warned that James has gone AWOL. The purpose of Marsh’s desert mission remains shrouded in mystery as do the lives of the Jewish family that have taken in the injured James Kelly into their home in Alexandria. When Marsh leaves his post to be reunited with Kelly the two men find themselves and those who have cared for them at great risk.
Bodies of Men is a captivating and moving love story that acutely measures the deep contrasts of the masculine condition - acts of tenderness, cruelty, affection and fury all cascade upon one another as the lives of these men pulsate through the mind of the reader. Featherstone brings it all together in refined, unpretentious prose - war writing without sentimentality or hyperbole. I was totally absorbed by this book. I think it’s just the thing for readers of Sebastian Faulks. There are even some ethereal notes of Michael Ondaatje in this. It’s that good.
About the Author
Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer who has been published widely. His works include the story collection Joy (2000), his debut novel Remnants (2005), and The Beach Volcano (2014), which is the third in a series of novellas. He wrote the libretto for The Weight of Light, a contemporary song cycle that had its world premiere in 2018. He has held residencies at Varuna (Blue Mountains), Bundanon (Shoalhaven River), and UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
He lives on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales
Featherstone's writing rings with assurance, and echoes with love, memory and tenderness. - Karen Viggers, author of The Lightkeeper's Wife
a beautiful, tender, captivating story - Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village