If the Invader Comes
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A critically acclaimed, Booker long-listed novel that is reminiscent of Pat Barker's 'Regeneration Trilogy'. Clarice Pike and Vic Warren are from completely different backgrounds. An impossible affair has already driven them thousands of miles apart. 1939 finds Clarice in Malaya where her father is an obscure company doctor, and Vic in East London, an unemployed shipwright badly married to Phylis, Clarice's cousin. As their feelings conspire to draw the lovers back together, the world erupts with a terrible violence. It is the relentlessness of male brutality that forces Vic to grope towards what real manhood might be. 'If the Invader Comes' combines themes from Derek Beaven's previously acclaimed 'Newton's Niece' and 'Acts of Mutiny' to portray a wartime England where human relationships are threatened as much from within the family as from occupied Europe. Exciting, moving and ultimately optimistic, Derek Beaven's new novel represents a daring leap in British fiction.
A child waved. He recognised her. Under his care, she’d recovered from a paralysis, which the mother had insisted was caused by an ill-wisher. On such matters he kept an open mind, for he’d proved the abracadabra of medicine himself, countless times. The body might be decently addressed with an instruction to heal – and quite often it really would, throwing off even the most tenacious bug. Therefore, he allowed, in wickedness it could be told to become sick, and might comply. Shaving, he
She bit her lip. ‘It’s just I don’t understand you. There’s always something going on in the world. Always something awful being done to someone. It’s not like you to come over like this. You’re not yourself. You always said, didn’t you, look after the next man and the world will get better. I thought that’s what you did, as a doctor. That’s how I imagined you, Daddy. I admired you. I thought we were safe here. I thought you were happy. Aren’t you?’ ‘Happy enough.’ He looked sharply at her.
mirror was mounted. Vic looked up from the eerie reflection. The ceiling had plain mouldings, but from the central rose hung a vast glass chandelier. The signs of wealth reminded him of the time when a kindly foreign professor had invited the external students to Prince’s Gate for drinks. A tang of cigar smoke drifted in the air. Chest high under the pictures ran shelves of books, so many in the torch’s beam. He moved closer. The spines showed old-fashioned letter shapes which he couldn’t read.
go and join the Volunteers after all,’ she suggested, her hair let loose from the comb, framing her face. ‘They’d know.’ ‘They’re the most bloody detestable collection of Fascists.’ ‘They can’t all be, Daddy.’ ‘Shell-shocked old men,’ he said. ‘Hunting and shooting types. Yokels and village idiots. They don’t know their arse from their elbow, girl. They haven’t a clue what we’re fighting for.’ ‘They might know what a slit trench was.’ He exasperated her. A convoy of dull-green army lorries
keep going down instead of bobbing off on its own account. How impetuously Pentonville could take hold, the great warp of the prison seemingly dragging him back. Overhead there were bombers, friend or foe – he waited to see if the guns on the Thames estuary would open up. The sky was the merest strip of egg-yolk yellow beyond the glass. ‘I have no spirit, you see.’ He knelt down next to her. ‘Vic, darling …’ She held his head against her chest. ‘It’s so hard to get you out. You think