An Ice Cream War – William Boyd

So, as I travel through reading Booker Prize Winners, I sometimes wander off the track to nominated books that didn’t win. In 1982, the winner was Schindlers Ark, but this must have given the judges something to think about. This one is set in East Africa during the first big War and is not so much of a ripping yarn as a literary study into the lives of two brothers together with an American entrepreneur.  But don’t be put off there is plenty of plot to keep you turning the pages.

It is a satirical piece – not going so far as say Catch 22 – but still showing the ineptitude of the military with the characters being seriously belted about by circumstance. Look out for Wheech-Browning, bad things happen whenever he turns up. The characters sex lives (such as they are) are rather British and perhaps amuse rather than titillate.

I guess most of us think about WWI as the Western Front or perhaps the ANZAC assault in Turkey and that Africa is a footnote to be found in great movie The African Queen. So the subject matter here provides some great interest.

Each of the three main characters has a separate narrative which converge nicely, however the character Smith does seem to fade a bit. Perhaps the editors got to it. It’s a big book which some may find slow, but I found it to hold a great deal of interest in the characters and their perilous time in Africa.




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