All This Will Be Lost, by Brian Payton

Publisher:  Picador (Pan Macmillan)  |  Publication date:  21st May 2015  |  Edition: Paperback (review copy)

All This Will Be Lost by Brian Payton

‘All This Will Be Lost’ is a story of courage, truth and an unwavering devotion. (Hardback version was entitled ‘The Wind Is Not A River’.)

How many books leave a genuine imprint on your train of thought? How many really? You know, the ones that prick your senses from a solitary line of prose…

Death itself is no longer an abstract concept, it is an unwelcomed and patient companion.

All This will Be Lost is such a book. This snapshot in time captures momentous tragedy with a poetic charm that’s in a class of its own. It’s a beautifully written story, depicting an ugly period of history.

The book spans 1st April 1943 to 9th November 1945. Journalist John Easley and his wife, Helen, have been separated. This story strives to construct a virtual bridge, hoping to close the chasm these two people have created, whilst leaving a scar deepened by war.

Told entirely in the third person, we hear of their struggles during this time – their individual accounts are unforgettable.

Following an air crash, the journalist finds himself not only in an unfamiliar territory, but a hostile one. He is enveloped by the bleakness of the Japanese occupied Aleutian Islands, Alaska.

The events that unfold are not heart breaking, they’re heart tearing. With no immediate way home, extreme survival is the only option, as John is driven by the knowledge of the untold story of these islands, a story he believes should be reported to the rest of the world. The harrowing conditions, the question of his sanity, and his dwindling connection to civilisation are all presented with a tenderness I cannot even begin to describe.

Helen is hundreds of miles away in Seattle, unsettled and waiting for news of his whereabouts. When none is forthcoming, she is determined to find a way to get closer to the truth. Although her enquiries seem futile, she proves she can take any measures necessary to try to deliver her husband safely home.

Their journeys bring unexpected challenges and consequences. But please, please, do not mistake this for a traditional, war-torn romance, it is on another level entirely. There are no clichéd melodramatics, if there were, I wouldn’t be writing this review. It also presents a wretched, eye opening experience of two people’s lives when the rest of the world, including theirs, is being torn apart.

A marvel of a book, and a highly recommended one at that.

Rating: 4.5/5

I would like to thank the publisher for providing this marvellous book for review. I’m so grateful to have been given (this opportunity to read it.)

You can follow the author on Twitter: @bapayton  |  Publisher: @panmacmillan & @Sophiemorme

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