Sixty years on: a great novel about the end of World War II - an acclaimed, riveting and moving masterpiece.
It is April 1945, and the small provincial town of Lohenfelde is about to be overrun by the Allied Third Army. Huddled in the vaults of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Museum to escape the artillery bombardment, are Heinrich Hoffer, the Acting Director, and his three colleagues: two women and one man, underground and under siege. Their petty rivalries and resentments surface quickly in this claustrophobic confinement, and the vaults become a stage for an intense psychological drama of secret histories and shared terror, as the four prepare themselves for their fate. Above the ground, picking through the rubble, is Corporal Neal Parry, who wishes he was back in West Virginia studying art and not dodging snipers in another hostile German town. When he finds an exquisite painting in what remains of the museum vaults, he is immediately reconnected with a lost world of beauty and order: the world of art. It is this small 18th-century oil - the appropriately titled Landscape with Ruins - that is the poignant link between the young American soldier and the four charred corpses he finds at the same time. As the narratives interweave, the story of the painting reveals the hidden story of Herr Hoffer and his three associates - and in doing so uncovers other, darker mysteries. In this thrilling re-creation of the last months of the Second World War, Adam Thorpe has written a narrative tour de force which vividly illuminates both the frailty of humanity and its indomitable spirit. Through his beautifully drawn characters, Thorpe allows us to see - just as they begin to see - the possibilities of art and love: perspective, in the face of war.
“'A gem...he enfolds us in the macabre, dust-laden terror of an enemy artillery strike, his imagery so vivid it causes one's throat to constrict...'”
“'Art and war collide in this powerful novel...Moving and thought-provoking.' Daily Telegraph 'The Rules of Perspective is a gripping read, as well written as everything by Adam Thorpe'”
“'An elaborately plotted work of formal brilliance and invention...a compelling fiction that memorably portrays the wretchedness of war”
“'A wholly gripping meditation on the place of art and beauty in a world governed by violence... Beautiful and compelling”
“'An intricately constructed, powerfully written piece: the work of a serious, hard-working novelist in his prime. In the nexus of art, war and flawed humanity, Thorpe has found a thrilling, evanescent beauty”