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Set in the Alps in the mid 50's in a small hamlet at the foot of the mountains this novel is a wonderful study of the rapport between two brothers-one a hardworking ex-mountain guide who is now mentally disabled following an accident and his younger brother who is a lazy chancer.
The younger brother is anxious to sell up and abandon the rugged mountain farming life something which his brother is dead against. The book demonstrates the rising poverty in the countryside at the height of the rural exodus when peasants deserted their farms for the cities in droves.
Everything changes when an aeroplane en route from India to London crashes high up on the mountain top and an expedition is sent up to bring down the mail. We witness an epic struggle between man and mountain and man and man as the tension ramps up.
There is plenty to discuss in terms of plot, character and background in this novel which is still very popular in France. Although not currently on any set text it would beautifully complement a regional study of the Alps.
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