author Johanna Skibsrud spins a masterful tale about memory and war.
Inspired by and structured around the chamber piece of the
same title by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time is a mesmerizing story of four lives
irrevocably linked in a single act of betrayal. The novel takes us on an
unforgettable journey beginning during the 1930s Bonus Army riots, when World
War I veteran Arthur Sinclair is falsely accused of conspiracy and then
disappears. His absence will haunt his son, Douglas, as well as Alden and
Sutton Kelly, the children of a powerful US congressman, as they
experience—each in different ways—the dynamic political social changes that
took place leading up to and during World War II.
From the New Deal projects through which Douglas, newly
fatherless, makes his living to Sutton’s work as a journalist, to Alden’s life
as a code breaker and a spy, each character is haunted by the past and is
searching for love, hope, and redemption in a world torn apart by chaos and
war. Through the lives of these characters, as well as those of their lovers,
friends, and enemies, the novel transports us from the Siberian Expedition of
World War I to the underground world of a Soviet spy in the 1920s and 1930s, to
the occultist circle of P. D. Ouspensky and London during the Blitz, to the
German prison camp where Messiaen originally composed and performed his famous Quartet for the End of Time.
At every turn, this rich and ambitious novel tells some of
the less well-known stories of twentieth-century history with epic scope and
astonishing power, revealing at every turn the ways in which history and memory
tend to follow us, and in which absence has a palpable presence. Download and start listening now!