After Dunkirk

Written by Milena McGraw
Review by Sarah Cuthbertson

I was intrigued by this novel. Written by a Czech-born American woman, it’s set in England and tells the story of Wayne Luthie, a young Battle of Britain pilot: a challenge on several counts. The tale is told in a series of random flashbacks, thoughts and letters, some only a few lines long. And here’s where the problems start. I read the first 30 pages, wondering when the story was going to begin, then I realized – this WAS the story. If the author’s intention is to reflect the disorder of a mind stressed by war, it doesn’t quite work, mainly because of the lack of a narrative framework. What began as interesting and original soon became merely irritating. A pity, because McGraw has captured period detail and speech perfectly and her themes – love and loss, can there be a just war? – are perennially fascinating. “Christ,” Wayne says early on, “this is not a memoir I am writing: it is a hodgepodge!” Quite.