A Novel


From an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter, an “affecting…wartime love story in the tradition of Atonement” (Kirkus Reviews), about three friends who fall into a love triangle during World War II and its aftermath.

From an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter, an epic novel of love and loss and the long shadows war leaves behind.

Summer, 1942. Kitty, an army driver stationed in Sussex, meets Ed, a Royal Marine commando, and Larry, a liaison officer with Combined Ops. She falls instantly in love with Ed, who falls in love with her. So does Larry. Both men go off to war, and Ed wins the highest military honor for his bravery. But sometimes heroes don’t make the best husbands.

Motherland follows Kitty, Ed, and Larry from wartime England and the brutally tragic Dieppe raid to Nazi-occupied France, India after the war, and Jamaica before independence. Against this ever-changing backdrop—as they witness history being made and participate in the smaller dramas of romance, friendship, and parenthood—these three friends make choices that will determine the challenges and triumphs of their lives. But the insistent current running through all they experience is the unacknowledged tension of the love triangle that binds them together and must somehow be resolved.

Written by an award-winning screenwriter whose novels have earned extraordinary critical praise, Motherland is a compelling, page-turning narrative brimming with stunning war scenes, pageantry, politics, and questions about faith and art, as well as quiet, intimate moments of passion, doubt, and longing. Above all, it is a great love story about three people struggling to find happiness and meaning amid war and its aftermath.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476706061 | 
  • July 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Motherland includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club and a Q&A with author William Nicholson. . The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Motherland, an epic story of friendship, war, love, and loss, opens in England during World War II and unfolds in a decade of its aftermath. Best friends and marines Ed and Larry both love the same woman, but it's Ed, the handsome hero, who wins Kitty's heart at first sight. As dependable Larry remains quietly in the background, unable but waiting to reveal his true feelings, Kitty's marriage slowly unravels as the psychological effect of post-war life takes its toll on Ed. Spanning the globe from England and France to India and Jamaica, Motherland follows these three characters through life's triumphs and tragedies, dreams and defeats, that will impact generations to come.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. When Alice travels to Normandy, her grandmother Pamela tells her there was one true love story in the family. To whom do you think she was referring–Kitty and Ed, or Kitty and Larry? Discuss why.
2. How might the current generation, including see more

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About the Author

William Nicholson
Photograph by Jerry Bauer

William Nicholson

William Nicholson is a screenwriter, playwright, television writer, and novelist. In addition to his Academy Award–nominated screenplays for Shadowlands and Gladiator, he is the author of Motherland; several young adult and fantasy novels; and a sequence of contemporary adult novels set in England. He lives in Sussex, England.