THE VERDUN AFFAIR is a deeply moving and evocative novel about a passionate love affair and the tragedy of wartime, set during the tumultuous years of post-World War I Europe.
A sweeping, romantic, and profoundly moving novel, set in Europe in the aftermath of World War I and Los Angeles in the 1950s, about a lonely young man, a beautiful widow, and the amnesiac soldier whose puzzling case binds them together even as it tears them apart.
In 1920, two young Americans meet in Verdun, the city in France where one of the most devastating battles of the war was waged. Tom is an orphan from Chicago, a former ambulance driver now gathering bones from the battlefield; Sarah is an expatriate from Boston searching for the husband who wandered off from his division and hasn't been seen since. Quickly, the two fall into a complicated affair against the ghostly backdrop of the ruined city. Months later, Sarah and Tom meet again at the psychiatric ward of an Italian hospital, drawn there by the appearance of a mysterious patient the doctors call Douglas Fairbanks (after the silent film actor) - a shell-shocked soldier with no memory of who he is. At the hospital, Tom and Sarah are joined by Paul, an Austrian journalist with his own interest in the amnesiac.
Each is keeping a secret; each has been shaken by the horrors of war. Decades later, Tom, now a successful screenwriter, encounters Paul by chance in LA, still grappling with the questions raised by this gorgeous and incisive novel: How to begin again after unfathomable trauma? How to love after so much loss? And who, in the end, was Douglas Fairbanks?
From the bone-strewn fields of Verdun to the bombed-out cafes of Paris, from the riot-torn streets of Bologna to the riotous parties of 1950s Hollywood, THE VERDUN AFFAIR is a riveting tale of romance, grief and the far-reaching consequences of a single lie.
A haunting, beautiful, and wholly absorbing book, that is at once a gripping story of war, a poignant coming of age, and a bittersweet romance. Dybek conjures the time period with elegance and visceral detail. I didn't want it to end! - Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles and Circe
The Verdun Affair is an intensely gripping story set in the immediate aftermath of war. From a still-smoldering battlefield, Nick Dybek conjures a sweeping saga of secrets, lies, mistaken identity, love and betrayal. This is the kind of book you can't put down.
I am still haunted by the images of war so deftly conjured in the midst of an elegiac love story. Dybek writes with a commanding sense of story and language. This novel will not let you go.
The Verdun Affair is a masterful, sweeping novel of love and war and the way we reconstruct ourselves and our stories after everything has come apart. Nick Dybek is a vivid storyteller, and this is a beautiful and exciting book.
The Verdun Affair is ravishingly beautiful, and as much about love as about war. I found myself drawn in immediately, believing the place, the characters, everything in Nick Dybek's magnificently woven story, which is as finely painted and meted out as Anthony Doerr's, All the Light we Cannot See
Nick Dybek's first novel, WHEN CAPTAIN FLINT WAS STILL A GOOD MAN, was the winner of the 2013 Society of Midland Authors Award, a finalist for the VCU-Cabell First Novelist Award and his been translated into five languages. He's also a recipient of a Granta New Voices selection, a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award and a Maytag Fellowship. He received a BA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from The Iowa Writers' Workshop. He teaches at Oregon State University.