Winner of the Prix des Libraires
Short-listed for the Grand Prix of the Académie Francaise
Synopses & Reviews
In autumn 1914, on one of the first days of shooting, Adrien Fournier, a lieutenant in the French Army, leads a reconnaissance mission to the Meuse River. From the opposite bank, German mortar fire blasts the team, killing all but Adrien who is hit in the face by shrapnel. He sustains terrible injuries. In the ensuing years, Adrien is left to wonder whether it would have been better had he, too, died that day on the river.
Adrien is sent to the hospital at Val-de-Grace on the outskirts of Paris to a closed ward without mirrors, reserved for those who have been disfigured. He will never know the incredible hardships his comrades will suffer in the trenches, nor the agony of a long war that most expected to last only a few months.
Instead, Adrien's war is an endless round of pain and reconstruction and this one room, which he shares with a Jewish aviator and a Breton aristocrat. Between bouts of surgery, a special bond of friendship forms among these faceless men. And when a once-beautiful woman joins their group, Adrien discovers that hope, humanity, and humor can endure even there, in the officers' ward.
"Dugain has created a powerful fictional document, a work that celebrates its characters' unspoken inner strength and the curious bonds of their friendship. It shows how far a novel can succeed by cleverly convincing the reader that it isn't a novel at all." David Willis McCullough, The New York Times Book Review
"A strangely moving story of friendship and psychic healing." Boston Herald
"A novel of breathtaking simplicity and power...the complex tragedies and joys of suffering human beings." Times on Saturday (London)
"The Officers' Ward makes you wonder, 'Could I be as good as these men?'" John Griesemer, author of No One Thinks of Greenland
It is autumn 1914, the first days of the Great War. At a hospital on the outskirts of Paris in a room without mirrors, a young lieutenant lies scarred, his face forever disfigured by a German shell. But he is not alone. Between bouts of surgery, he discovers that hope, humanity and humor can endure even there in the officers' ward.
About the Author
Marc Dugain is forty-two and lives in Paris. The Officer's Ward is based upon the experiences of his grandfather. It is his first novel.