Widely acclaimed as Massie’s finest novel, A Question of Loyalties engages with all the complexities and ambiguities of loyalty, nationality and family as they are put under threat by betrayal, by errors of judgement, or simply friendship.
Etienne de Balafré, half French, half English and raised in South Africa, returns to post-war France to unravel the tangled history of his own father. Was Lucien de Balafré a patriot who served his country as best he could in difficult times, or a treacherous collaborator in the Vichy government?
Rife with the anguish of hindsight and the irony of circumstance, this powerful book brilliantly explores the ties between fathers and sons and the pains of love and duty in a period of European history that is still characterised by wilful denial and hatred.
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“I have no hesitation in calling it a major novel … Massie here has vigorously pushed back the narrowing boundaries of English fiction. This is a novel of scope, substance and strength all too rare today.”
“Addictively narrated … Out of one broken man’s story evolves the weighty history and treachery of a whole era.”
“If anyone needs a virtuoso example of what fiction can do that history can’t, I would direct them to this novel. It renders Vichy France absolutely palpable in a way I have not read before: in all its abysmal compromises, hatreds, self-loathings, betrayals and silences.”
“As a prose stylist, Massie can write like an angel … taut yet elegiac, epigrammatic yet wistfully lyrical.”
Allan Massie was born on 19 October 1938 in Singapore, and was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond and Trinity College, Cambridge. He began his career as a teacher (1960-71) at Drumtochty Castle School, and also taught English as a second language in Rome (1972-5). He was Creative Writing Fellow at Edinburgh University (1982-4) and at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities (1985-6). He was a member of the Scottish Arts Council (1989-91), a Trustee of the National Museums of Scotland (1995-8), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Allan Massie was a columnist for the Glasgow Herald (1985-8) and the Sunday Times Scotland (1987-91), and has been fiction reviewer for The Scotsman since 1976. He has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph since 1991, The Daily Mail since 1994, and the Sunday Times Scotland since 1996. A former editor of the New Edinburgh Review, he also contributes to the Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator.