The Cartographer of No Man's Land

The Cartographer of No Man's Land

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
From a hardscrabble fishing village in Nova Scotia to the collapsing trenches of France, an astonishing debut novel about family divided by the great war.

Nova Scotia, 1916. Angus MacGrath, a skilled sailor and navigator, is lost—caught between a remote wife, a disapproving father, and a son seeking guidance. An ocean away from his coastal village, missing is Ebbin Hant, Angus's adventurous brother-in-law and best friend. Ebbin's unknown fate sets angus on an uncharted course with profound consequences for those he loves and those he comes to love.

In search of his own purpose and hoping against all odds to find Ebbin, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing and enlists. Assured a safe job as a military cartographer in London, he is instead assigned to the infantry and sent to the blood-soaked mud of the front-line trenches in France, where he begins his search.

At home his young son, Simon Peter, once wide-eyed about the war—clipping stories and sneaking propaganda—must navigate uncertain loyalties ina village succumbing to war fever. Separated by the ocean they once sailed together, Angus and Simon Peter search for what it takes to survive, each trying in his own way to return to the other. Every character in this exquisitely told story seeks to protect what matters most in the face of war's upheaval.

Drawing on extensive research and years of sailing in Nova Scotia, and inspired by the silent testament of sacrifice in the battlefield cemeteries of France, P. S. Duffy brings us a breathtaking work of historical fiction, epic in scope but intimately rendered. The Cartographer of No Man's Land is a novel about the immutable thirst for meaning in a shifting, uncertain landscape.

Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Canada Books, 2013
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780143186861
Branch Call Number: FIC Duffy
Characteristics: 371 pages ; 23 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jun 27, 2018

Duffy has a deeply and poignantly human tale to tell - it is a historical novel of WW1, but much deeper than many of its kind due to the added dimension of tracking the complete family drama. It is two stories, delving both deeply into the felt experience of the soldiers on the Western Front, but also the families, neighbors, home-bound invalids, even the German immigrants, in the Home Front communities.

May 17, 2016

7 out of 10. Story wove between heartbreaks, but it was a good story

Oct 31, 2014

Fifty to 75 pages too long. Author is a hell of a writer but falls short as a story-teller.

Jul 24, 2014

As the 100th anniversary of this terrible war is observed, this book is worth reading as the author beautifully explores the circles of hell opened up by war, both on the battlefield and the homefront.

Apr 20, 2014

A Nova Scotia man joins Canadian troops headed to the Great War, promised with his sailing, artistic and navigation skills he?ll be a cartographer. On the home front his son Simon watches the war and its effects on his family and neighbors.

Duffy has written a wonderful story that appealed to me on many levels. The mystery of brother-in-law Ebbin, thought missing in action, gives the narrative page-turning intensity. But, Simon?s coming-of-age age story, particularly as he confronts the prejudice against his German heritage teacher is touching. And, the widow and son where Angus billets behind the lines gives the story both humor and pathos. Good first effort from this Minnesota writer.


Add a Summary

Jul 24, 2014

When his beloved brother-in-law Ebben goes missing in the “Great War”, Angus MacGrath puts aside his pacifist upbringing in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia and joins the army to search for him. Instead of becoming a cartographer working from London, Angus is thrust into the trenches in France. Back home, those who are left waiting are subjected to tension and hostility. As the 100th anniversary of this terrible war is observed, this book is worth reading as the author beautifully explores the circles of hell opened up by war, both on the battlefield and at home.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at IPL

To Top