Nothing is Fair in Love nor War

The British Empire is responsible for many things, not least of which is a number of peoples left with a deep feeling of resentment and anger even generations after the fact.
In The Mortal Trinity the setup is basic romance: war is tearing the world apart and the British find themselves fighting alongside formerly conquered peoples and former enemies. Resentment casts its own shadows on an already dark field.
Edward, not exactly a sparkling personality to begin with, has followed the drums from England to what he believes will be glorious war. Only to find himself faced with mud, blood and situations which challenge his view of heroism and war as strictly confined to the battlefield.
At the army base he meets Aroha, a rather reserved and mysteriously exotic nurse from an island far south of any battlefields, and Cox, a hero escaped from a Victorian novel of male comradeship.
Aroha, transplanted from her home is seething with repressed fury only aggravated by the continued tension, oppression and persecution forced on the minority groups within the camp, both ethnic persecutions and males of females. To her they are one and the same.
One night she climbs into bed with Edward for the very simple reason that submitting to one is better than submitting to many and it is better to choose than to be forced.
Edward on the other hand believes he has found the great romance in her embrace. His worldview is righted and everything makes sense again. He believes the world is narrative, that it works according to certain set rules and he sees Aroha’s willing submission as evidence of love. For him Aroha is now the only thing that makes sense, and she quickly becomes his obsession.
The war ends, but not the conflict.
Edward and Aroha, now married, move to her home, where he quickly settles in and is treated with respect and favoritism by authorities still under the influence of the old world order.
Aroha’s resentment on the other hand has solidified and is now centered on Edward as the symbol and representative of all that is she hates. She is a survivor, not a fighter, and her choice to marry him is simply based on the advantages this gives her in the world she lives in.
The marriage turns increasingly poisonous and both she and Edward turn to affairs with other women. The poison even infects their relationship to their daughters who grow up in a world much different from the one their parents knew and who have difficulty relating to their choices. The conflict does not resolve and it is hinted that the only hope of the novel lies in the life of their grandchild.
Much is repressed in Julia Cape’s style. Little is told and much inferred or left completely up to the reader. It gives the impression of almost unemotional characters at times.
She challenges the reader to identify with either protagonist, and to use the imagination. Perhaps even to look closely at preconceived ideas of how a story should go. How many of us do tend to think narratively?
In the Mortal Trinity she turns the traditional romance on its head. Two people, saving each other in a war, does not necessarily spell love and happily ever after and a gentle mysterious woman with hidden depths may not necessarily have anything nice in them.
Nothing is fair in Julia Cape’s novel, neither love nor war nor narrative. As she is a new author, we can only hope that her next book is equally challenging.
To read The Mortal Trinity it is possible to buy it now on Amazon at: