It's 1946. The world is full of holes. There is one of them in central London where the bombs fell and took off the roofs- and the wild flowers fill up the cellars and climb the walls. A young girl from Vichy France- a one-time hanger-on of the maquis- finds another maquis here- among the deserters and black marketeers who haunt the ruins. She and her younger cousin continue their war against a universal Gestapo which now comes kitted out in the blue helmets of the London constabulary.
Back home she did a very terrible thing.
I love this book.
Until very recently the only Terry Jones the world concerned itself with was Jones the Python. Sadly this is no longer the case. I gave Jones the Bonfire a good googling and there is very little that's known about him. Apparently he founded a church in Germany- in Cologne- and the people of the church eventually threw him out for being bossy and annoying. Also- whilst he was there- he got into trouble with the German authorities for calling himself a doctor when he isn't one.
So what can one say about people like him except that they are silly? His point of view (he admits to not having read the book he proposes to burn) is too fatuous to be argued with. And not only is he silly but unimportant and insignificant ( the pastor of a tiny rural congregation) or would be if the media hadn't decided to talk him up. So how exactly do these things happen? A man who preaches to fifty folk in some tin shack in the boondocks (it may not actually be tin but metaphorically it is) decides to have a backyard book-burning and this event- that deserves to be buried in the middle pages of the local newspaper- breaks out and becomes a sensation and causes equally silly men with beards- half a world away- to bounce up and down and burn flags and threaten murder- and that very important man the President of Indonesia to ring that other very important man the President of the USA and ask him please to make it stop.
No-one emerges from this dispiriting story with credit- and that includes us rubberneckers. It's a carcrash of the human spirit and we're all of us- Jones, the angry bouncing Muslims, the media , the bystanders ("Oo look he's toting a gun") - enjoying ourselves like fuck.