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In Memoriam

A novel

Author Alice Winn
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Hardcover
$28.00 US
6.6"W x 9.5"H x 1.4"D  
On sale Mar 07, 2023 | 400 Pages | 978-0-593-53456-4
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
Here is a haunting, virtuosic debut novel about two young men who fall in love during World War I.

It’s 1914, and World War I is ceaselessly churning through thousands of young men on both sides of the fight. The violence of the front feels far away to Henry Gaunt, Sidney Ellwood and the rest of their classmates, safely ensconced in their idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. News of the heroic deaths of their friends only makes the war more exciting.

Gaunt, half German, is busy fighting his own private battle—an all-consuming infatuation with his best friend, the glamorous, charming Ellwood—without a clue that Ellwood is pining for him in return. When Gaunt’s family asks him to enlist to forestall the anti-German sentiment they face, Gaunt does so immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings for Ellwood. To Gaunt’s horror, Ellwood rushes to join him at the front, and the rest of their classmates soon follow. Now death surrounds them in all its grim reality, often inches away, and no one knows who will be next.

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

“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
 
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.” —Joanna Quinn, author of The Whalebone Theatre
 
“A searing and harrowing novel about the love story between two young 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, author of All In Her Head
 
“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, author of Magpie Lane

“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, author of The Marriage Portrait

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

“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, award-winning author of Unsettled Ground

“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
 
“Alice 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, author of Harmless Like You

“Extraordinary. A truly epic tale of love unspoken, love shared and love lost. An instant and unforgettable classic.” —A.J. West, author of The Spirit Engineer

“A superb debut. . . . Winn stages excellent action scenes . . . but it is the men’s love for each other that resonates. This is a remarkable achievement.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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)

“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.” —Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)
© Jamie Ting
ALICE WINN grew up in Paris and was educated in the UK. She has a degree in English literature from Oxford University. She lives in Brooklyn. View titles by Alice Winn
I

ONE

Ellwood was a prefect, so his room that year was a splendid one, with a window that opened onto a strange outcrop of roof. He was always scrambling around places he shouldn’t. It was Gaunt, however, who truly loved the roof perch. He liked watching boys dipping in and out of Fletcher Hall to pilfer biscuits, prefects swanning across the grass in Court, the organ master coming out of Chapel. It soothed him to see the school functioning without him, and to know that he was above it.

Ellwood also liked to sit on the roof. He fashioned his hands into guns and shot at the passers-by.

“Bloody Fritz! Got him in the eye! Take that home to the Kaiser!”

Gaunt, who had grown up summering in Munich, did not tend to join in these soldier games.

Balancing The Preshutian on his knee as he turned the page, Gaunt finished reading the last “In Memoriam.” He had known seven of the nine boys killed. The longest “In Memoriam” was for Clarence Roseveare, the older brother of one of Ellwood’s friends. As to Gaunt’s own friend—and enemy—Cuthbert-Smith, a measly paragraph had sufficed to sum him up. Both boys, The Preshutian assured him, had died gallant deaths. Just like every other Preshute student who had been killed so far in the War.

“Pow!” muttered Ellwood beside him. “Auf Wiedersehen!”

Gaunt took a long drag of his cigarette and folded up the paper.

“They’ve got rather more to say about Roseveare than about Cuthbert-Smith, haven’t they?”

Ellwood’s guns turned back to hands. Nimble, long-fingered, ink-stained.

“Yes,” he said, patting his hair absentmindedly. It was dark and unruly. He kept it slicked back with wax, but lived in fear of a stray curl coming unfixed and drawing the wrong kind of attention to himself. “Yes, I thought that was a shame.”

“Shot in the stomach!” Gaunt’s hand went automatically to his own. He imagined it opened up by a streaking piece of metal. Messy.

“Roseveare’s cut up about his brother,” said Ellwood. “They were awfully close, the three Roseveare boys.”

“He seemed all right in the dining hall.”

“He’s not one to make a fuss,” said Ellwood, frowning. He took Gaunt’s cigarette, scrupulously avoiding touching Gaunt’s hand as he did so. Despite Ellwood’s tactile relationship with his other friends, he rarely laid a finger on Gaunt unless they were play-fighting. Gaunt would have died rather than let Ellwood know how it bothered him.

Ellwood took a drag and handed the cigarette back to Gaunt.

“I wonder what my ‘In Memoriam’ would say,” he mused.

“ ‘Vain boy dies in freak umbrella mishap. Investigations pending.’ ”

“No,” said Ellwood. “No, I think something more like ‘English literature today has lost its brightest star . . . !’ ” He grinned at Gaunt, but Gaunt did not smile back. He still had his hand on his stomach, as if his guts would spill out like Cuthbert-Smith’s if he moved it. He saw Ellwood take this in.

“I’d write yours, you know,” said Ellwood, quietly.

“All in verse, I suppose.”

“Of course. As Tennyson did, for Arthur Hallam.”

Ellwood frequently compared himself to Tennyson and Gaunt to Tennyson’s closest friend. Mostly, Gaunt found it charming, except when he remembered that Arthur Hallam had died at the age of twenty-two and Tennyson had spent the next seventeen years writing grief poetry. Then Gaunt found it all a bit morbid, as if Ellwood wanted him to die, so that he would have something to write about.

Gaunt had kneed Cuthbert-Smith in the stomach, once. How different did a bullet feel from a blow?

“Your sister thought Cuthbert-Smith was rather good-looking,” said Ellwood. “She told me at Lady Asquith’s, last summer.”

“Did she?” asked Gaunt, unenthusiastically. “Awfully nice of her to confide in you like that.”

“Maud’s A1,” said Ellwood, standing abruptly. “Capital sort of girl.” A bit of slate crumbled under his feet and fell to the ground, three stories below.

“Christ, Elly, don’t do that!” said Gaunt, clutching the window ledge. Ellwood grinned and clambered back into the bedroom.

“Come on in, it’s wet out there,” he said.

Gaunt hurriedly took another breath of smoke and dropped his cigarette down a drainpipe. Ellwood was splayed out on the sofa, but when Gaunt sat on his legs, he curled them hastily out of the way.

“You loathed Cuthbert-Smith,” said Ellwood.

“Yes. Well. I shall miss loathing him.”

Ellwood laughed.

“You’ll find someone new to hate. You always do.”

“Undoubtedly,” said Gaunt. But that wasn’t the point. He had written nasty poems about Cuthbert-Smith, and Cuthbert-Smith (Gaunt was almost certain it was him) had scrawled, “Henry Gaunt is a German SPY” on the wall of the library cloakroom. Gaunt had punched him for that, but he would never have shot him in the stomach.

“I think I believe he’ll be back next term, smug and full of tall tales from the front,” said Ellwood, slowly.

“Maybe none of them will come back.”

“That sort of defeatist attitude will lose us the War.” Ellwood cocked his head. “Henry. Old Cuthbert-Smith was an idiot. He probably walked straight into a bullet for a lark. That’s not what it will be like when we go.”

“I’m not signing up.”

Ellwood wrapped his arms around his knees, staring at Gaunt.

“Rot,” he said.

“I’m not against all war,” said Gaunt. “I’m just against this war. ‘German militarism’—as if we didn’t hold our empire through military might! Why should I get shot at because some Austrian archduke was killed by an angry Serb?”

“But Belgium—”

“Yes, yes, Belgian atrocities,” said Gaunt. They had discussed all this before. They had even debated it, and Ellwood had beaten him, 596 votes to 4. Ellwood would have won any debate: the school loved him.

“But you have to enlist,” said Ellwood. “If the War is even still on when we finish school.”

“Why? Because you will?”

Ellwood clenched his jaw and looked away.

“You will fight, Gaunt,” he said.

“Oh, yes?”

“You always fight. Everyone.” Ellwood rubbed a small flat spot on his nose with one finger. He often did that. Gaunt wondered if Ellwood resented that he had punched it there. They had only fought once. It hadn’t been Gaunt who started it.

“I don’t fight you,” he said.

“ϒνῶθι σεαυτόν,” said Ellwood.

“I do know myself!” said Gaunt, lunging at Ellwood to smother him with a pillow, and for a moment neither of them could talk, because Ellwood was squirming and shrieking with laughter while Gaunt tried to wrestle him off the sofa. Gaunt was strong, but Ellwood was quicker, and he slipped through Gaunt’s arms and fell to the floor, helpless with laughter. Gaunt hung his head over the side, and they pressed their foreheads together.

“Fighting like this, you mean?” said Gaunt, when they had got their breath back. “Wrestle the Germans to death?”

Ellwood stopped laughing, but he didn’t move his forehead. They were still for a moment, hard skull against hard skull, until Ellwood pulled away and leant his face into Gaunt’s arm.

All of Gaunt’s muscles tensed at the movement. Ellwood’s breath was hot. It reminded Gaunt of his dog back home, Trooper. Perhaps that was why he ruffled Ellwood’s hair, his fingers searching for strands the wax had missed. He hadn’t stroked Ellwood’s hair in years, not since they were thirteen-year-olds in their first year at Preshute and he would find Ellwood huddled in a heap of tears under his desk.

But they were in Upper Sixth now, their final year, and almost never touched each other.

Ellwood was very still.

“You’re like my dog,” said Gaunt, because the silence was heavy with something.

Ellwood tugged away.

“Thanks.”

“It’s a good thing. I’m very fond of dogs.”

“Right. Anything you’d like me to fetch? I’m starting to get the hang of newspapers, although my teeth still leave marks.”

“Don’t be daft.”

Ellwood laughed a little unhappily.

“I’m sad about Roseveare and Cuthbert-Smith too, you know,” he said.

“Oh, yes,” said Gaunt. “And Straker. Remember how you two used to tie the younger boys to chairs and beat them all night?”

It had been years since Ellwood bullied anyone, but Gaunt knew he was still ashamed of the vein of ungovernable violence that burnt through him. Just last term, Gaunt had seen him cry tears of rage when he lost a cricket match. Gaunt hadn’t cried since he was nine.

“Straker and I were much less rotten than the boys in the year above were to us,” said Ellwood, his face red. “Charlie Pritchard shot us with rifle blanks.”

Gaunt smirked, conscious that he was taunting Ellwood because he felt he had embarrassed himself by touching his hair. It was the sort of thing Ellwood did to other boys all the time, he reasoned with himself. Yes, a voice answered. But never to him.

“I wasn’t close with Straker, anyway,” said Ellwood. “He was a brute.”

“All your friends are brutes, Ellwood.”

“I’m tired of all this.” Ellwood stood. “Let’s go for a walk.”

They were forbidden to leave their rooms during prep, so they had to slip quietly out of Cemetery House. They crept down the back stairs, past the study where their housemaster, Mr. Hammick, was berating a Shell boy for sneaking. (Preshute was a younger public school, and eagerly used the terminology of older, more prestigious institutions: Shell for first year, Remove for second, Hundreds for third, followed by Lower and Upper Sixth.)

“It is a low and dishonourable thing, Gosset. Do you wish to be low and dishonourable?”

“No, sir,” whimpered the unfortunate Gosset.

“Poor chap,” said Ellwood when they had shut the back door behind them. They walked down the gravel path into the graveyard that gave Cemetery House its name. “The Shell have been perfectly beastly to him, just because he told them all on his first day that he was a duke.”

“Is he?” asked Gaunt, skimming the tops of tombstones with his fingertips as he walked.

“Yes, he is, but that’s the sort of thing one ought to let people discover. It’s rather like me introducing myself by saying, ‘Hello, I’m Sidney Ellwood, I’m devastatingly attractive.’ It’s not for me to say.”

“If you’re waiting for me to confirm your vanity—”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” said Ellwood with a cheery little skip. “I haven’t had a compliment from you in about three months. I know, because I always write them down and put them in a drawer.”

“Peacock.”

“Well, the point is, Gosset has been thoroughly sat on by the rest of his form, and I feel awfully sorry for him.”

They were coming to the crumbling Old Priory at the bottom of the graveyard. It was getting colder and wetter as night fell. The sky darkened to navy blue, and in the wind their tailcoats billowed. Gaunt hugged his arms around himself. There was something expectant about winter evenings at Preshute. It was the contrast, perhaps, between the hulking hills behind the school, the black forest, the windswept meadows, all so silent—and the crackling loudness of the boys when you returned to House. Walking through the empty fields, they might have been the only people left alive. Ellwood lived in a grand country estate in East Sussex, but Gaunt had grown up in London. Silence was distinctly magical.

“Listen,” said Ellwood, closing his eyes and tilting up his face. “Can’t you just imagine the Romans thrashing the Celts if you’re quiet?”

They stopped.

Gaunt couldn’t imagine anything through the silence.

“Do you believe in magic?” he asked. Ellwood paused for a while, so long that if he had been anyone else, Gaunt might have repeated the question.

“I believe in beauty,” said Ellwood, finally.

“Yes,” said Gaunt, fervently. “Me too.” He wondered what it was like to be someone like Ellwood, who contributed to the beauty of a place, rather than blighting it.

“It’s a form of magic, all this,” said Ellwood, walking on. “Cricket and hunting and ices on the lawn on summer afternoons. England is magic.”

Gaunt had a feeling he knew what Ellwood was going to say next.

“That’s why we’ve got to fight for it.”

Ellwood’s England was magical, thought Gaunt, picking his way around nettles. But it wasn’t England. Gaunt had been to the East End once, when his mother took him to give soup and bread to Irish weavers. There had been no cricket or hunting or ices, there. But Ellwood had never been interested in ugliness, whereas Gaunt—because of Maud, perhaps, because she read Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell and wrote mad things about the colonies in her letters—feared that ugliness was too important to ignore.

“Do you remember the Peloponnesian War?” said Gaunt.

Ellwood let out a breathy laugh. “Honestly, Gaunt, I don’t know why I bother with you. We skipped prep so that we wouldn’t have to think about Thucydides.”

“Athens was the greatest power in Europe, perhaps even the world. They had democracy, art, splendid architecture. But Sparta was almost as powerful. Not quite, but close enough. And Sparta was militaristic.”

“Is this a parable, Gaunt? Are you Christ?”

“And so the Athenians fought the Spartans.”

“And they lost,” said Ellwood, kicking at a rotting log.

“Yes.”

Ellwood didn’t answer for a long time.

“We won’t lose,” he said, finally. “We’re the greatest empire that’s ever been.”

They were in Hundreds the first time they got drunk together. Gaunt was sixteen and Ellwood fifteen. Pritchard had somehow—“at great personal cost,” he told them darkly—convinced his older brother to give him five bottles of cheap whisky. They locked themselves in the bathroom at the top of Cemetery House: Pritchard, West, Roseveare, Ellwood, and Gaunt. Ellwood, Gaunt later discovered, had insisted on buying his bottle off Pritchard. Ellwood had a morbid fear of being perceived as miserly.

West spat his first mouthful of whisky into the sink. He was a big-eared, clumsy, disastrous sort of person: stupid at lessons, average at games, a cheerful failure.

“Christ alive! That’s abominable stuff,” he said. His tie was crooked. It always was, no matter how many times he was punished for sloppiness.

“Keep drinking,” advised Roseveare, from his lazy position on the floor. Gaunt glanced at him and noticed with some irritation that, even dishevelled, he was immaculate. He was the youngest of three perfect Roseveare boys, each more exemplary than the last, and he was good-looking in a careless, gilded way that Gaunt resented.

“I quite like it,” said Ellwood, turning his bottle to look at the label. “Perhaps I shall develop a habit. I think Byron had a habit.”

“So do monks,” said Gaunt.

“That was nearly funny, Gaunt,” said Roseveare encouragingly. “You’ll get there.”

Gaunt took a swig of whisky. He didn’t much like the taste, but it made him feel light, as if people weren’t looking at him. Or, perhaps, it made him feel as if he shouldn’t mind it if they did. He climbed into the bathtub and sank out of sight, clutching the bottle to his chest.
  • LONGLIST | 2023
    Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
A Best Book of the Year: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, NPR, BookPage, Shelf Awareness, and Spectator

"Magnificent—dazzling and wrenching, witty and wildly romantic, with echoes of Brideshead Revisited and Atonement. I loved it.” —Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians

“An epic love story amid the brutalities of war.” People

“Glorious, addictive, exquisite . . . I couldn’t put it down.” —Hugh Ryan, New York Times Book Review

“Indelible.” Washington Post

“Consuming and unstintingly romantic.” The New Yorker

“Astounding . . . She’s a magnificent writer.” —NBC “Weekend Today in New York”

“A genuine page-turner.” Sunday Times (U.K.)
 
“Propulsive, visceral and heartrending . . . I can’t remember the last time I was this invested in a love story.” Sunday Telegraph

“If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.” —Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry (via Instagram)

“With her debut novel, Alice Winn joins the ranks of the finest war writers this side of Homer and Heller  . . . It holds its own in a crowded field of gay-men-in-World-War-I sagas, and towers above most of the others . . . Winn emerges a writer we’ve been waiting for.” Bay Area Reporter

“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, author of The Marriage Portrait

“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

In Memoriam is utterly compelling. These young men live and love with a bright urgency, even as their world burns. Alice Winn has written one of the finest debut novels I have read in years. Her inventiveness, deftness of touch and command of period detail suggests this book marks the start of a truly first-rate career.”  —Dan Jones, author of Essex Dogs and The Plantagenets

“I loved this book. I loved Gaunt and Ellwood and how their hearts and stories became entwined in this masterful debut. My heart also became entwined with theirs, and there is no greater joy for me as a reader than that. Alice Winn and In Memoriam have my gratitude.” —Ann Napolitano, author of Hello Beautiful

“Fast-paced and gripping . . . A moving elegy for lost youth.” Mail on Sunday

“Beautifully written and engrossing . . . Winn succeeds brilliantly . . . Excellent . . . This is a remarkable debut, with a keen and wise understanding of human nature.” The Spectator

In Memoriam is at once epic and intimate, humorous and profound . . . Winn’s dialogue thrums with mirth and furious intelligence. Throughout, she artfully switches perspectives and settings, leaving the reader in desperate suspense.” The Observer (U.K.)

"Guaranteed to move readers to the core . . . One of the most moving books I have read in a long time.” Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

Birdsong for a new generation . . . 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.” —Joanna Quinn, author of The Whalebone Theatre

“I can’t tell you how much I loved this novel . . . Various elements reminded me of A Little Life, Birdsong and All Quiet on the Western Front, but even though the content is heart-wrenching in so many ways, it remains an easy, engrossing read—I’ve already recommended it to all my friends.” Stylist

“Winn’s depiction of the war is gripping . . . Her research is matched by her ability to craft a compelling narrative . . . Truly impressive.” Washington Independent Review of Books

“First love, class, male camaraderie and the horrors of war are all explored in this quietly heartbreaking epic with the unforgettable appeal of Birdsong.Good Housekeeping
 
“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)

“Gripping, tender, immersive and, most of all, completely unforgettable.” i newspaper

“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 cliché. Winn makes such important points about class, destruction and the loss of innocence. I loved it with a startling ferocity.” —Elizabeth Day, author of The Party

“From the first page, I knew this would be a book I would read time and again . . . Tender, loving, heartbreaking, endlessly compelling, richly detailed and poetic. I stayed up until 3 a.m. so I could read it in one sitting, because I simply couldn’t stop myself.” —Brianna Labuskes, author of The Librarian of Burned Books

“A searing and harrowing novel about the love story between two young 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, author of All In Her Head
 
“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, author of Magpie Lane

“Easily the most affecting novel I read this year . . . Extremely assured and engaging . . . Winn has a remarkable feel for the complicated emotions of her two protagonists.” —Peter Parker, Spectator (U.K.)

“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
 
“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
 
“Alice 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, author of Harmless Like You

“Extraordinary. A truly epic tale of love unspoken, love shared and love lost. An instant and unforgettable classic.”  —A.J. West, author of The Spirit Engineer

“Alice Winn’s devastating debut will smash your heart to smithereens.” —Daily Mail

“A shattering novel written with an assurance even more impressive because it is the author’s debut.” Historical Novels Review

"This story is all consuming . . . In Memoriam manages to be one of the most tender stories that I’ve ever read . . . My heart was broken many times over . . . Winn’s characters will go down in literary history.”  NB Magazine

“An instant classic.” Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

“A superb debut . . . A remarkable achievement.” Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Powerful, deeply imagined . . . Hard to forget . . . 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.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

About

Here is a haunting, virtuosic debut novel about two young men who fall in love during World War I.

It’s 1914, and World War I is ceaselessly churning through thousands of young men on both sides of the fight. The violence of the front feels far away to Henry Gaunt, Sidney Ellwood and the rest of their classmates, safely ensconced in their idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. News of the heroic deaths of their friends only makes the war more exciting.

Gaunt, half German, is busy fighting his own private battle—an all-consuming infatuation with his best friend, the glamorous, charming Ellwood—without a clue that Ellwood is pining for him in return. When Gaunt’s family asks him to enlist to forestall the anti-German sentiment they face, Gaunt does so immediately, relieved to escape his overwhelming feelings for Ellwood. To Gaunt’s horror, Ellwood rushes to join him at the front, and the rest of their classmates soon follow. Now death surrounds them in all its grim reality, often inches away, and no one knows who will be next.

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

“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
 
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.” —Joanna Quinn, author of The Whalebone Theatre
 
“A searing and harrowing novel about the love story between two young 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, author of All In Her Head
 
“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, author of Magpie Lane

“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, author of The Marriage Portrait

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

“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, award-winning author of Unsettled Ground

“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
 
“Alice 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, author of Harmless Like You

“Extraordinary. A truly epic tale of love unspoken, love shared and love lost. An instant and unforgettable classic.” —A.J. West, author of The Spirit Engineer

“A superb debut. . . . Winn stages excellent action scenes . . . but it is the men’s love for each other that resonates. This is a remarkable achievement.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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)

“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.” —Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)

Author

© Jamie Ting
ALICE WINN grew up in Paris and was educated in the UK. She has a degree in English literature from Oxford University. She lives in Brooklyn. View titles by Alice Winn

Excerpt

I

ONE

Ellwood was a prefect, so his room that year was a splendid one, with a window that opened onto a strange outcrop of roof. He was always scrambling around places he shouldn’t. It was Gaunt, however, who truly loved the roof perch. He liked watching boys dipping in and out of Fletcher Hall to pilfer biscuits, prefects swanning across the grass in Court, the organ master coming out of Chapel. It soothed him to see the school functioning without him, and to know that he was above it.

Ellwood also liked to sit on the roof. He fashioned his hands into guns and shot at the passers-by.

“Bloody Fritz! Got him in the eye! Take that home to the Kaiser!”

Gaunt, who had grown up summering in Munich, did not tend to join in these soldier games.

Balancing The Preshutian on his knee as he turned the page, Gaunt finished reading the last “In Memoriam.” He had known seven of the nine boys killed. The longest “In Memoriam” was for Clarence Roseveare, the older brother of one of Ellwood’s friends. As to Gaunt’s own friend—and enemy—Cuthbert-Smith, a measly paragraph had sufficed to sum him up. Both boys, The Preshutian assured him, had died gallant deaths. Just like every other Preshute student who had been killed so far in the War.

“Pow!” muttered Ellwood beside him. “Auf Wiedersehen!”

Gaunt took a long drag of his cigarette and folded up the paper.

“They’ve got rather more to say about Roseveare than about Cuthbert-Smith, haven’t they?”

Ellwood’s guns turned back to hands. Nimble, long-fingered, ink-stained.

“Yes,” he said, patting his hair absentmindedly. It was dark and unruly. He kept it slicked back with wax, but lived in fear of a stray curl coming unfixed and drawing the wrong kind of attention to himself. “Yes, I thought that was a shame.”

“Shot in the stomach!” Gaunt’s hand went automatically to his own. He imagined it opened up by a streaking piece of metal. Messy.

“Roseveare’s cut up about his brother,” said Ellwood. “They were awfully close, the three Roseveare boys.”

“He seemed all right in the dining hall.”

“He’s not one to make a fuss,” said Ellwood, frowning. He took Gaunt’s cigarette, scrupulously avoiding touching Gaunt’s hand as he did so. Despite Ellwood’s tactile relationship with his other friends, he rarely laid a finger on Gaunt unless they were play-fighting. Gaunt would have died rather than let Ellwood know how it bothered him.

Ellwood took a drag and handed the cigarette back to Gaunt.

“I wonder what my ‘In Memoriam’ would say,” he mused.

“ ‘Vain boy dies in freak umbrella mishap. Investigations pending.’ ”

“No,” said Ellwood. “No, I think something more like ‘English literature today has lost its brightest star . . . !’ ” He grinned at Gaunt, but Gaunt did not smile back. He still had his hand on his stomach, as if his guts would spill out like Cuthbert-Smith’s if he moved it. He saw Ellwood take this in.

“I’d write yours, you know,” said Ellwood, quietly.

“All in verse, I suppose.”

“Of course. As Tennyson did, for Arthur Hallam.”

Ellwood frequently compared himself to Tennyson and Gaunt to Tennyson’s closest friend. Mostly, Gaunt found it charming, except when he remembered that Arthur Hallam had died at the age of twenty-two and Tennyson had spent the next seventeen years writing grief poetry. Then Gaunt found it all a bit morbid, as if Ellwood wanted him to die, so that he would have something to write about.

Gaunt had kneed Cuthbert-Smith in the stomach, once. How different did a bullet feel from a blow?

“Your sister thought Cuthbert-Smith was rather good-looking,” said Ellwood. “She told me at Lady Asquith’s, last summer.”

“Did she?” asked Gaunt, unenthusiastically. “Awfully nice of her to confide in you like that.”

“Maud’s A1,” said Ellwood, standing abruptly. “Capital sort of girl.” A bit of slate crumbled under his feet and fell to the ground, three stories below.

“Christ, Elly, don’t do that!” said Gaunt, clutching the window ledge. Ellwood grinned and clambered back into the bedroom.

“Come on in, it’s wet out there,” he said.

Gaunt hurriedly took another breath of smoke and dropped his cigarette down a drainpipe. Ellwood was splayed out on the sofa, but when Gaunt sat on his legs, he curled them hastily out of the way.

“You loathed Cuthbert-Smith,” said Ellwood.

“Yes. Well. I shall miss loathing him.”

Ellwood laughed.

“You’ll find someone new to hate. You always do.”

“Undoubtedly,” said Gaunt. But that wasn’t the point. He had written nasty poems about Cuthbert-Smith, and Cuthbert-Smith (Gaunt was almost certain it was him) had scrawled, “Henry Gaunt is a German SPY” on the wall of the library cloakroom. Gaunt had punched him for that, but he would never have shot him in the stomach.

“I think I believe he’ll be back next term, smug and full of tall tales from the front,” said Ellwood, slowly.

“Maybe none of them will come back.”

“That sort of defeatist attitude will lose us the War.” Ellwood cocked his head. “Henry. Old Cuthbert-Smith was an idiot. He probably walked straight into a bullet for a lark. That’s not what it will be like when we go.”

“I’m not signing up.”

Ellwood wrapped his arms around his knees, staring at Gaunt.

“Rot,” he said.

“I’m not against all war,” said Gaunt. “I’m just against this war. ‘German militarism’—as if we didn’t hold our empire through military might! Why should I get shot at because some Austrian archduke was killed by an angry Serb?”

“But Belgium—”

“Yes, yes, Belgian atrocities,” said Gaunt. They had discussed all this before. They had even debated it, and Ellwood had beaten him, 596 votes to 4. Ellwood would have won any debate: the school loved him.

“But you have to enlist,” said Ellwood. “If the War is even still on when we finish school.”

“Why? Because you will?”

Ellwood clenched his jaw and looked away.

“You will fight, Gaunt,” he said.

“Oh, yes?”

“You always fight. Everyone.” Ellwood rubbed a small flat spot on his nose with one finger. He often did that. Gaunt wondered if Ellwood resented that he had punched it there. They had only fought once. It hadn’t been Gaunt who started it.

“I don’t fight you,” he said.

“ϒνῶθι σεαυτόν,” said Ellwood.

“I do know myself!” said Gaunt, lunging at Ellwood to smother him with a pillow, and for a moment neither of them could talk, because Ellwood was squirming and shrieking with laughter while Gaunt tried to wrestle him off the sofa. Gaunt was strong, but Ellwood was quicker, and he slipped through Gaunt’s arms and fell to the floor, helpless with laughter. Gaunt hung his head over the side, and they pressed their foreheads together.

“Fighting like this, you mean?” said Gaunt, when they had got their breath back. “Wrestle the Germans to death?”

Ellwood stopped laughing, but he didn’t move his forehead. They were still for a moment, hard skull against hard skull, until Ellwood pulled away and leant his face into Gaunt’s arm.

All of Gaunt’s muscles tensed at the movement. Ellwood’s breath was hot. It reminded Gaunt of his dog back home, Trooper. Perhaps that was why he ruffled Ellwood’s hair, his fingers searching for strands the wax had missed. He hadn’t stroked Ellwood’s hair in years, not since they were thirteen-year-olds in their first year at Preshute and he would find Ellwood huddled in a heap of tears under his desk.

But they were in Upper Sixth now, their final year, and almost never touched each other.

Ellwood was very still.

“You’re like my dog,” said Gaunt, because the silence was heavy with something.

Ellwood tugged away.

“Thanks.”

“It’s a good thing. I’m very fond of dogs.”

“Right. Anything you’d like me to fetch? I’m starting to get the hang of newspapers, although my teeth still leave marks.”

“Don’t be daft.”

Ellwood laughed a little unhappily.

“I’m sad about Roseveare and Cuthbert-Smith too, you know,” he said.

“Oh, yes,” said Gaunt. “And Straker. Remember how you two used to tie the younger boys to chairs and beat them all night?”

It had been years since Ellwood bullied anyone, but Gaunt knew he was still ashamed of the vein of ungovernable violence that burnt through him. Just last term, Gaunt had seen him cry tears of rage when he lost a cricket match. Gaunt hadn’t cried since he was nine.

“Straker and I were much less rotten than the boys in the year above were to us,” said Ellwood, his face red. “Charlie Pritchard shot us with rifle blanks.”

Gaunt smirked, conscious that he was taunting Ellwood because he felt he had embarrassed himself by touching his hair. It was the sort of thing Ellwood did to other boys all the time, he reasoned with himself. Yes, a voice answered. But never to him.

“I wasn’t close with Straker, anyway,” said Ellwood. “He was a brute.”

“All your friends are brutes, Ellwood.”

“I’m tired of all this.” Ellwood stood. “Let’s go for a walk.”

They were forbidden to leave their rooms during prep, so they had to slip quietly out of Cemetery House. They crept down the back stairs, past the study where their housemaster, Mr. Hammick, was berating a Shell boy for sneaking. (Preshute was a younger public school, and eagerly used the terminology of older, more prestigious institutions: Shell for first year, Remove for second, Hundreds for third, followed by Lower and Upper Sixth.)

“It is a low and dishonourable thing, Gosset. Do you wish to be low and dishonourable?”

“No, sir,” whimpered the unfortunate Gosset.

“Poor chap,” said Ellwood when they had shut the back door behind them. They walked down the gravel path into the graveyard that gave Cemetery House its name. “The Shell have been perfectly beastly to him, just because he told them all on his first day that he was a duke.”

“Is he?” asked Gaunt, skimming the tops of tombstones with his fingertips as he walked.

“Yes, he is, but that’s the sort of thing one ought to let people discover. It’s rather like me introducing myself by saying, ‘Hello, I’m Sidney Ellwood, I’m devastatingly attractive.’ It’s not for me to say.”

“If you’re waiting for me to confirm your vanity—”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” said Ellwood with a cheery little skip. “I haven’t had a compliment from you in about three months. I know, because I always write them down and put them in a drawer.”

“Peacock.”

“Well, the point is, Gosset has been thoroughly sat on by the rest of his form, and I feel awfully sorry for him.”

They were coming to the crumbling Old Priory at the bottom of the graveyard. It was getting colder and wetter as night fell. The sky darkened to navy blue, and in the wind their tailcoats billowed. Gaunt hugged his arms around himself. There was something expectant about winter evenings at Preshute. It was the contrast, perhaps, between the hulking hills behind the school, the black forest, the windswept meadows, all so silent—and the crackling loudness of the boys when you returned to House. Walking through the empty fields, they might have been the only people left alive. Ellwood lived in a grand country estate in East Sussex, but Gaunt had grown up in London. Silence was distinctly magical.

“Listen,” said Ellwood, closing his eyes and tilting up his face. “Can’t you just imagine the Romans thrashing the Celts if you’re quiet?”

They stopped.

Gaunt couldn’t imagine anything through the silence.

“Do you believe in magic?” he asked. Ellwood paused for a while, so long that if he had been anyone else, Gaunt might have repeated the question.

“I believe in beauty,” said Ellwood, finally.

“Yes,” said Gaunt, fervently. “Me too.” He wondered what it was like to be someone like Ellwood, who contributed to the beauty of a place, rather than blighting it.

“It’s a form of magic, all this,” said Ellwood, walking on. “Cricket and hunting and ices on the lawn on summer afternoons. England is magic.”

Gaunt had a feeling he knew what Ellwood was going to say next.

“That’s why we’ve got to fight for it.”

Ellwood’s England was magical, thought Gaunt, picking his way around nettles. But it wasn’t England. Gaunt had been to the East End once, when his mother took him to give soup and bread to Irish weavers. There had been no cricket or hunting or ices, there. But Ellwood had never been interested in ugliness, whereas Gaunt—because of Maud, perhaps, because she read Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell and wrote mad things about the colonies in her letters—feared that ugliness was too important to ignore.

“Do you remember the Peloponnesian War?” said Gaunt.

Ellwood let out a breathy laugh. “Honestly, Gaunt, I don’t know why I bother with you. We skipped prep so that we wouldn’t have to think about Thucydides.”

“Athens was the greatest power in Europe, perhaps even the world. They had democracy, art, splendid architecture. But Sparta was almost as powerful. Not quite, but close enough. And Sparta was militaristic.”

“Is this a parable, Gaunt? Are you Christ?”

“And so the Athenians fought the Spartans.”

“And they lost,” said Ellwood, kicking at a rotting log.

“Yes.”

Ellwood didn’t answer for a long time.

“We won’t lose,” he said, finally. “We’re the greatest empire that’s ever been.”

They were in Hundreds the first time they got drunk together. Gaunt was sixteen and Ellwood fifteen. Pritchard had somehow—“at great personal cost,” he told them darkly—convinced his older brother to give him five bottles of cheap whisky. They locked themselves in the bathroom at the top of Cemetery House: Pritchard, West, Roseveare, Ellwood, and Gaunt. Ellwood, Gaunt later discovered, had insisted on buying his bottle off Pritchard. Ellwood had a morbid fear of being perceived as miserly.

West spat his first mouthful of whisky into the sink. He was a big-eared, clumsy, disastrous sort of person: stupid at lessons, average at games, a cheerful failure.

“Christ alive! That’s abominable stuff,” he said. His tie was crooked. It always was, no matter how many times he was punished for sloppiness.

“Keep drinking,” advised Roseveare, from his lazy position on the floor. Gaunt glanced at him and noticed with some irritation that, even dishevelled, he was immaculate. He was the youngest of three perfect Roseveare boys, each more exemplary than the last, and he was good-looking in a careless, gilded way that Gaunt resented.

“I quite like it,” said Ellwood, turning his bottle to look at the label. “Perhaps I shall develop a habit. I think Byron had a habit.”

“So do monks,” said Gaunt.

“That was nearly funny, Gaunt,” said Roseveare encouragingly. “You’ll get there.”

Gaunt took a swig of whisky. He didn’t much like the taste, but it made him feel light, as if people weren’t looking at him. Or, perhaps, it made him feel as if he shouldn’t mind it if they did. He climbed into the bathtub and sank out of sight, clutching the bottle to his chest.

Awards

  • LONGLIST | 2023
    Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Praise

A Best Book of the Year: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, NPR, BookPage, Shelf Awareness, and Spectator

"Magnificent—dazzling and wrenching, witty and wildly romantic, with echoes of Brideshead Revisited and Atonement. I loved it.” —Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians

“An epic love story amid the brutalities of war.” People

“Glorious, addictive, exquisite . . . I couldn’t put it down.” —Hugh Ryan, New York Times Book Review

“Indelible.” Washington Post

“Consuming and unstintingly romantic.” The New Yorker

“Astounding . . . She’s a magnificent writer.” —NBC “Weekend Today in New York”

“A genuine page-turner.” Sunday Times (U.K.)
 
“Propulsive, visceral and heartrending . . . I can’t remember the last time I was this invested in a love story.” Sunday Telegraph

“If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.” —Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry (via Instagram)

“With her debut novel, Alice Winn joins the ranks of the finest war writers this side of Homer and Heller  . . . It holds its own in a crowded field of gay-men-in-World-War-I sagas, and towers above most of the others . . . Winn emerges a writer we’ve been waiting for.” Bay Area Reporter

“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, author of The Marriage Portrait

“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

In Memoriam is utterly compelling. These young men live and love with a bright urgency, even as their world burns. Alice Winn has written one of the finest debut novels I have read in years. Her inventiveness, deftness of touch and command of period detail suggests this book marks the start of a truly first-rate career.”  —Dan Jones, author of Essex Dogs and The Plantagenets

“I loved this book. I loved Gaunt and Ellwood and how their hearts and stories became entwined in this masterful debut. My heart also became entwined with theirs, and there is no greater joy for me as a reader than that. Alice Winn and In Memoriam have my gratitude.” —Ann Napolitano, author of Hello Beautiful

“Fast-paced and gripping . . . A moving elegy for lost youth.” Mail on Sunday

“Beautifully written and engrossing . . . Winn succeeds brilliantly . . . Excellent . . . This is a remarkable debut, with a keen and wise understanding of human nature.” The Spectator

In Memoriam is at once epic and intimate, humorous and profound . . . Winn’s dialogue thrums with mirth and furious intelligence. Throughout, she artfully switches perspectives and settings, leaving the reader in desperate suspense.” The Observer (U.K.)

"Guaranteed to move readers to the core . . . One of the most moving books I have read in a long time.” Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

Birdsong for a new generation . . . 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.” —Joanna Quinn, author of The Whalebone Theatre

“I can’t tell you how much I loved this novel . . . Various elements reminded me of A Little Life, Birdsong and All Quiet on the Western Front, but even though the content is heart-wrenching in so many ways, it remains an easy, engrossing read—I’ve already recommended it to all my friends.” Stylist

“Winn’s depiction of the war is gripping . . . Her research is matched by her ability to craft a compelling narrative . . . Truly impressive.” Washington Independent Review of Books

“First love, class, male camaraderie and the horrors of war are all explored in this quietly heartbreaking epic with the unforgettable appeal of Birdsong.Good Housekeeping
 
“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)

“Gripping, tender, immersive and, most of all, completely unforgettable.” i newspaper

“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 cliché. Winn makes such important points about class, destruction and the loss of innocence. I loved it with a startling ferocity.” —Elizabeth Day, author of The Party

“From the first page, I knew this would be a book I would read time and again . . . Tender, loving, heartbreaking, endlessly compelling, richly detailed and poetic. I stayed up until 3 a.m. so I could read it in one sitting, because I simply couldn’t stop myself.” —Brianna Labuskes, author of The Librarian of Burned Books

“A searing and harrowing novel about the love story between two young 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, author of All In Her Head
 
“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, author of Magpie Lane

“Easily the most affecting novel I read this year . . . Extremely assured and engaging . . . Winn has a remarkable feel for the complicated emotions of her two protagonists.” —Peter Parker, Spectator (U.K.)

“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
 
“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
 
“Alice 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, author of Harmless Like You

“Extraordinary. A truly epic tale of love unspoken, love shared and love lost. An instant and unforgettable classic.”  —A.J. West, author of The Spirit Engineer

“Alice Winn’s devastating debut will smash your heart to smithereens.” —Daily Mail

“A shattering novel written with an assurance even more impressive because it is the author’s debut.” Historical Novels Review

"This story is all consuming . . . In Memoriam manages to be one of the most tender stories that I’ve ever read . . . My heart was broken many times over . . . Winn’s characters will go down in literary history.”  NB Magazine

“An instant classic.” Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

“A superb debut . . . A remarkable achievement.” Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Powerful, deeply imagined . . . Hard to forget . . . 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.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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