Publication Date: 09/03/2023 ISBN: 9780241567821 Category: Tag:

In Memoriam

Alice Winn

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: 09/03/2023 ISBN: 9780241567821 Category: Tag:


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Mr B's review

Henry and Sidney are best friends at a prestigious school who, as war rumbles on, enlist and follow each other to the front line. Brilliant prose, a haunting depiction of queer love, and an ability to humanise both sides of the battle shine through in this harrowingly beautiful tale of WW1 and the forbidden romance that blooms in its grip. This stunning debut novel is painful, raw, and horrifically real.



‘If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out’ BONNIE GARMUS, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY

‘A devastating love story between two young men on the Western Front’ MAGGIE O’FARRELL, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF HAMNET

In 1914, war feels far away to Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood. They’re too young to enlist, and anyway, Gaunt is fighting his own private battle – an all-consuming infatuation with the dreamy, poetic Ellwood – not having a clue that his best friend is in love with him, always has been.

When Gaunt’s mother asks him to enlist in the British army to protect the family from anti-German attacks, he signs up immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings. But Ellwood and their classmates soon follow him into the horrors of the trenches. Though Ellwood and Gaunt find fleeting moments of solace in one another, their friends are dying in front of them, and at any moment they could be next.

An epic tale of the devastating tragedies of war and the forbidden romance that blooms in its grip, In Memoriam is a breathtaking debut.


‘One of the best debuts I’ve read in recent years: immersive, rousing, tender and devastating . . . please rush out and buy it’ ELIZABETH DAY


‘Like looking at a black and white photograph which has been colourised . . . I was completely absorbed, moved, and transported’ CLAIRE FULLER, AUTHOR OF UNSETTLED GROUND

‘When was the last time characters in a novel seemed so real to me, so cherishable, so alive?’ GARTH GREENWELL, AUTHOR OF CLEANNESS and WHAT BELONGS TO YOU

‘In Memoriam is at once epic and intimate, humorous and profound, a vivid rendering of the madness and legacy of the first world war as seen through the lens of a schoolboy love affair’ Observer

‘Propulsive, visceral and heartrending . . . I can’t remember the last time I was this invested in a love story’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A genuine page-turner’ Sunday Times

‘In Memoriam is gripping, tender, immersive and, most of all, completely unforgettable’ i, Fiction Pick of the Month

Sunday Times bestseller, November 2023

Publisher Review

It’s hard to believe that In Memoriam is a debut novel as it’s so assured, affecting and moving. Alice Winn has written a devastating love story between two young men that moves from the sheltered idyll of their public school to the unspeakable horrors of the Western Front during the First World War. Gaunt and Ellwood will live in your mind long after you’ve closed the final pages. — Maggie O’Farrell One of the best debuts I’ve read in recent years: immersive, rousing, tender and devastating. In Memoriam is both a deeply moving love story and a visceral evocation of the Great War, impressively free of cliche. Winn makes such important points about class, destruction and the loss of innocence. I loved it with a startling ferocity — Elizabeth Day A tender, affecting debut . . . Winn strikingly evokes the torment and brutality of life of the front * The Times * Alice Winn’s devastating debut will smash your heart to smithereens . . . as thousands of young men die in the most horrific of ways, Gaunt and Ellwood attempt to survive the slaughter and keep their love alive * Daily Mail * Winn’s accomplished debut presents two indelible characters – athletic Henry Gaunt and lyrical Sidney Ellwood, English boarding school chums who both believe their love for each other is unrequited. Whether they’re posturing schoolboys on the cusp of World War I or enduring the visceral shock and horrifying randomness of death in the trenches, Gaunt and Ellwood are unceasingly drawn to each other, each afraid to risk following his heart until it may be too late. * Washington Post, Noteworthy Books for March * IN MEMORIAM is a gripping and unsentimental love story that brings the First World War to life in a vividly new way. Alice Winn is a truly skilful writer, depicting her main characters, Gaunt and Ellwood, and the many layers of their relationship, beautifully, with real care and insight. She is unsparing in her depiction of the conflict in which they find themselves – powerfully evoking both the horrors of trench warfare and the devastating impact it had on those involved. She also brilliantly explores how the English public school system, with its casual brutalities and glorification of battle, was irrevocably intertwined with the war. An unforgettable novel, one I stayed up all night to finish, with characters I loved almost as much as they loved each other. . . Birdsong for a new generation — Joanna Quinn, author of THE WHALEBONE THEATRE I read through the night to finish this blistering debut, too feverishly engrossed to sleep. When was the last time characters in a novel seemed so real to me, so cherishable, so alive? Alice Winn has made familiar history fresh; no account of the First World War has made me feel so vividly its horror, or how irrevocably it mutilated the world. That In Memoriam is also an extraordinary love story is a sign of Winn’s wild ambition and her prodigious gifts: this is a novel that claims both beauty and brutality, the whole range of human life. — Garth Greenwell, author of CLEANNESS and WHAT BELONGS TO YOU A central relationship so utterly convincing that it will leave you bereft. Visceral, heartbreaking but full of heart, this is a masterpiece of war literature — Hanna Jameson, author of THE LAST and ARE YOU HAPPY NOW Alice Winn has pulled off a remarkable feat in making these men and the horrors of the First World War come so viscerally alive. It was like looking at a black and white photograph which has been colourised, and suddenly you understand that these shadowy people from the past also dreamed and cried and breathed just as we do now. I was completely absorbed, moved, and transported — Claire Fuller, author of UNSETTLED GROUND This debut captures an epic love story amid the brutalities of war * Poeple Magazine * Stunning . . . brutal and unflinching but also beautiful. A triumph — Karen Angelico Winn offers a fresh look at a subject many of us believe we know well. A tender story as much about love as it is about war — Rowan Hisayo Buchanan A searing and harrowing novel about the love story between two young men men played out against a backdrop of the horrors of World War I. The writing was so visceral and intense, I honestly felt as if I was in the trenches with them, and I’m still thinking about the book weeks after reading it. An incredible debut. — Nikki Smith In Memoriam is magnificent-dazzling and wrenching, witty and wildly romantic, with echoes of Brideshead Revisited and Atonement. I loved it — Lev Grossman, author of THE MAGICIANS Extraordinary. A truly epic tale of love unspoken, love shared and love lost. An instant and unforgettable classic * A.J. West * An astonishingly confident and impressive debut, this love story set in the First World War is shocking, brutal, and memorable. It left me shaken – and very impressed — Lucy Atkins Winn’s superb debut chronicles a romance between two English boarding school classmates during WWI . . . both men grapple with the realities of war, which Winn vividly renders with descriptions of the wounded . . . . Amid the chaos, Winn stages excellent action scenes: a tense scouting mission, as well as a tunnel-digging episode involving an escape from a German POW camp. The hunger the men feel, as well as their shell shock, is palpable, but it is the men’s love for each other that resonates. This is a remarkable achievement. * Publishers Weekly, starred * Winn’s finely accomplished debut novel is a rare thing, an intoxicating romance and an impossible-to-put-down war story in one . . . Winn captures the war as it looked, sounded, and smelled, but the ultimate death-defying acts here are in literature, breathtaking bravery, and love * Booklist, starred * Powerful, deeply imagined . . . One of the wonderful aspects of Winn’s debut is that, just when you think you’ve settled into a tender literary novel, its revelations and surprises begin to unfurl at an impressive pace that reads more like a thriller . . . Winn’s battle scenes are hair-raising and terrifying, but her portraits of Sidney and Henry are intimate and evocative . . . A love story that’s hard to forget * Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review *

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