'Sheers is a vivid, sensuous writer'
- Helen Dunmre
Owen's debut novel, Resistance is published in the UK by Faber & Faber. In the U.S. it is published by Nan A. Talese. Resistance - The Movie was released in November 2011.
In the months afterwards all of the women, at some point, said they’d known the men were leaving the valley…
1944. After the fall of Russia and the failed D-Day landings, a German counter-attack lands on British soil. Within a month, half of Britain is occupied.
Sarah Lewis, a 26-year-old farmer’s wife, wakes to find her husband Tom has disappeared. She is not alone. All the other women in the isolated Welsh border valley of Olchon also wake to find their husbands gone. With this sudden and unexplained absence the women regroup as an isolated, all-female community and wait, hoping for news.
A German patrol arrives in the valley, the purpose of their mission a mystery. When a severe winter forces the two groups into co-operation, a fragile mutual dependency develops. Sarah begins a faltering acquaintance with the patrol’s commanding officer, Albrecht Wolfram. But as the pressure of the war beyond presses in on them, the valley’s delicate state of harmony is increasingly threatened, before being broken completely, with devastating consequences.
Imbued with immense imaginative breadth and confidence, Owen Sheers’ debut novel unfolds with the pace and intensity of a thriller. A hymn to the glorious landscape of the border territories and a gripping portrait of a community under siege, Resistance is a first novel of considerable grace and power.
Owen's conversation with Jan Morris at the New York Public Library was filmed by New York's Channel Thirteen and can be viewed at:
The BBC Audio version of Resistance read by Richard Coyle can be downloaded from:
YouTube, video on Resistance:
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Praise for Resistance
“[A] remarkable first novel. Resistance is at once a brilliant and sometimes frightening thriller, and a mature exploration of human blur and compromise. Its plot presupposes that the Germans defeated the Normandy landings of 1944, and counter-attacked so powerfully that they soon occupied almost the whole of Britain. Sheers treads his tricky path with infinite subtlety. The book’s themes are universal: love of land and country, love and hate of nations, love and suspicion among people, fear and war and common decency.”
- Jan Morris, The Guardian
“What if the D-Day landings had failed and a successful German invasion of Britain had followed? Owen Sheers takes real contingency plans for this alternative outcome to the Second World War as the premise for his first novel, Resistance, and creates around his imagined history a credible and moving story of loyalty and quiet courage. An impressive debut and confirms Sheers as a writer whose talent encompasses a variety of literary forms.”
- The Independent
“Owen Sheers’s powerful first novel dances brilliantly with the possibilities of an alternative outcome to the Second World War. Resistance is less a thriller than a hymn to poetry. Embedded in the history and landscape of this border area, poetry seeps into our awareness as a fragile but persistent site of resistance to the forces of darkness.”
- The Telegraph
“Poet Sheers takes readers to a small Welsh village during a speculative WWII – featuring a German invasion of Britain – in his auspicious debut novel. It’s 1944 and Sarah Lewis and the women in Ochlon valley are left alone after all the local men disappear one night. The women’s worlds suddenly shrink to the day-to-day struggles to keep their sheep farms going until the war comes to their doorsteps in the form of Captain Albrecht Wolfram and his men, who have a murky mission to carry out in the valley. Promising to leave the women alone, the Germans occupy an abandoned house and the two camps keep mostly to themselves until a harsh winter takes hold, and it becomes clear that the locals and the Germans will have to depend on one another to survive. But when the weather breaks and the valley reopens to the world – and hence the war – the peculiar idyll threatens to shatter. Sheers’s alternate reality is frighteningly convincing and dripping with heartbreak. This is an outstanding debut.”
- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“If you had to pitch a movie version of Resistance, you might describe it as: "Fatherland meets Land of Our Fathers. " Like Robert Harris's bestseller, Owen Sheers' exceptional debut sees 20th-century history fork to the benefit of the Nazis. ..The heart of this book is the relationship between the valley's women and the soldiers, and particularly that between Sarah and the cerebral German captain, Albrecht. From this clash of worlds, Sheers conjures a moving meditation on what war does to people. The second world war often invites a Manichaean view of the world. But Resistance explores with subtlety the grey areas between self-preservation and altruism. If Albrecht is sympathetic, he is never the stereotypical "good Nazi ", while the breathless ending avoids easy cop-outs. The result is impossible to resist.”
- Financial Times
Author Praise for Resistance
“Owen Sheers' Resistance is an astonishing and compelling study of human nature against the backdrop of an occupied village. Sheers plumbs the depths of love, cowardice, bravery, and the devastating effects of blind patriotism, and in doing so exposes the best and worst of humanity in unexpected and haunting ways.”
- Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
"A beautiful, vital novel, about the paths that can lead to war, and out of it."
- Nadeem Aslam, author of Maps for Lost Lovers
“A remarkable work of speculative imagination. Sheers writes with an austere, bracing beauty perfectly attuned to the stark lives (and loves) of his characters. The result is that rare gift, a literary thriller whose pages we turn slowly, even regretfully, savoring every word.”
- Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
International editions and publishers
US - Nan Talese/Doubleday
Denmark - Gyldenhal
Finland - Otava
France - Payot Rivages
Greece - Oceanida
Holland - Ambo Anthos
Norway - Cappelens
Spain - Alfaguara
Sweden - Forum
Portugal - Casa das Letras
Australia - Allen & Unwin
India - Penguin
Canada - Penguin
Turkey - Pegasus Publishing