As in her six other novels, Patricia Anthony shows a gift for eccentric characters in FLANDERS. The hero is Travis Lee Stanhope, and he comes from a rural family in Texas. He enters Harvard University on a scholarship, loves the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and joins the British Expeditionary Force in World War I. He is also a psychic.
Travis is a rebel, too, and because of this he is accused of rapes and a murder he did not commit at the front in Flanders, Belgium. He does have a violent side and he is often drunk, but the real criminal is his friend in the trenches, Pierre LeBlanc, who is in the army to escape jail. Travis, a sharpshooter, does not like to kill, but LeBlanc does, and he is so highly decorated for killing Germans in battle that he is only court-martialed when his guilt is discovered.
Their captain, Richard Miller, takes matters into his own hands and kills LeBlanc. He is also Travis’s friend in that they share a love of Shelley and of horses, and in that neither of them belongs. Miller is Jewish, which puts him at odds with the upper class he belongs to, and he is gay, which puts him at odds with Travis. Still, though he is in love with Travis, he does not force himself upon him. As a Jew, he stands for justice, and as a homosexual, he makes a good instrument of revenge on LeBlanc, who hates women.
As the war’s details of carnage and stupidity pile up in Travis’s awareness, he becomes less and less able...
(The entire section is 473 words.)