The Prix-Goncourt winning masterpiece by the writer who brought you Alex, Irène and Camille
October 1918. The war on the Western Front is all butover for most soldiers - except the ambitious Lieutenant Henri d'AulnayPradelle. Desperate for one last chance of promotion, Pradelle sends two scoutsover the top, and secretly shoots them in the back to incite his men to heroicaction once more.
When Albert Maillard realises how the two soldiersmust have died, Pradelle is ready to go to any lengths to silence him. Pushedinto a shell hole and buried alive, Albert is left to face a horrific death -or he is until another soldier, Édouard Péricourt digs him out in the nick oftime, loosing half his face to a piece of flying shrapnel for his troubles.
So the fates and fortunes of this unlikely pair arebound together. Back in civilian life, both struggle to adjust to a society whosereverence for its dead cannot quite match its resentment for those whosurvived. But Albert and Édouard conspire to enact an audaciousform of revenge against the country that abandoned them - first to the trenchesand then to penury and despair - with a scheme to swindle the whole of Franceon an epic scale.
Meanwhile, believing her brother killed in action,Édouard's sister Madeleine has married Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle, who is runninga little scam of his own...
A big, swirling tale that itself reads like a 19th-century novel ... thick with detail, immersing the reader in its elaborately bleak world — Sarah Lyall, New York Times
The vast sweep of the novel and its array of extraordinary secondary characters have attracted comparisons with the works of Balzac. Moving, angry, intelligent - and compulsive — Marcel Berlins, The Times
This book is thick with detail, immersing the reader in its elaborately bleak world ... an irresistible story — Patricia Wall, New York Times
Exceptionally powerful examination of the aftermath of war and of the people whose lives were washed away in its wake — Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
Lemaitre's novel is a rare synthesis of the tragic and the comic - a masterclass in nail-biting suspense ... Frank Wynne is a superb translator who captures the rude exuberance of the original French — Edward Wilson, Independent
Lemaitre's deadpan ironic tone is beautifully caught by his regular translator Frank Wynne. A kind of Ealing comedy with a bruised but still beating heart, this is the most purely enjoyable book I've read this year — Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express
A fast-paced tale, filled with twists and turns, following a mischievous, disillusioned view of post-war France — Astrid de Larminat, Figaro
A masterly epic of post-war France, where impostures triumph and capitalists grow rich from the ruins — Macha Séry, Le Monde
You feel the author's indignation ... Who really profits from war? Crooks, the vengeful and frauds: The Great Swindle is political as much as it is picaresque — Christine Ferniot, Télérama
A dark, burning requiem delivered in glorious prose that is as tough and effective as a punch in the face ... Read this riotous novel: it will leave you stunned — François Busnel, Express