1944. After the fall of Russia and the failed D-Day landings, a German counter-attack lands on British soil. Within a month, half of Britain is occupied.

Sarah Lewis, a 26-year-old farmer’s wife, wakes to find her husband Tom has disappeared. She is not alone. All the other women in the isolated Welsh border valley of Olchon also wake to find their husbands gone. With this sudden and unexplained absence the women regroup as an isolated, all-female community and wait, hoping for news.

A German patrol arrives in the valley, the purpose of their mission a mystery. When a severe winter forces the two groups into co-operation, a fragile mutual dependency develops. Sarah begins a faltering acquaintance with the patrol’s commanding officer, Albrecht Wolfram. But as the pressure of the war beyond presses in on them, the valley’s delicate state of harmony is increasingly threatened, before being broken completely, with devastating consequences.

Imbued with immense imaginative breadth and confidence, Owen Sheers’ debut novel unfolds with the pace and intensity of a thriller. A hymn to the glorious landscape of the border territories and a gripping portrait of a community under siege, Resistance is a first novel of considerable grace and power.


  • “[A] remarkable first novel. Resistance is at once a brilliant and sometimes frightening thriller, and a mature exploration of human blur and compromise. Its plot presupposes that the Germans defeated the Normandy landings of 1944, and counter-attacked so powerfully that they soon occupied almost the whole of Britain. Sheers treads his tricky path with infinite subtlety. The book’s themes are universal: love of land and country, love and hate of nations, love and suspicion among people, fear and war and common decency.”

    Jan Morris, The Guardian

  • “What if the D-Day landings had failed and a successful German invasion of Britain had followed? Owen Sheers takes real contingency plans for this alternative outcome to the Second World War as the premise for his first novel, Resistance, and creates around his imagined history a credible and moving story of loyalty and quiet courage. An impressive debut and confirms Sheers as a writer whose talent encompasses a variety of literary forms.”

    The Independent

  • “Owen Sheers’s powerful first novel dances brilliantly with the possibilities of an alternative outcome to the Second World War. Resistance is less a thriller than a hymn to poetry. Embedded in the history and landscape of this border area, poetry seeps into our awareness as a fragile but persistent site of resistance to the forces of darkness.”

    The Telegraph

Owen Sheers


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Publication details:

Faber (2007)