There is nothing more important than love and refuge.

Egypt, 1941. Only hours after disembarking in Alexandria, William Marsh, an Australian corporal at twenty-one, is face down in the sand, caught in a stoush with the Italian enemy. He is saved by James Kelly, a childhood friend from Sydney and the last person he expected to see. But where William escapes unharmed, not all are so fortunate.

William is sent to supervise an army depot in the Western Desert, with a private directive to find an AWOL soldier: James Kelly. When the two are reunited, James is recovering from an accident, hidden away in the home of an unusual family – a family with secrets. Together they will risk it all to find answers. Soon William and James are thrust headlong into territory more dangerous than either could have imagined.

A beautifully evocative tale of two men whose lives are brought together in tragedy – for lovers of books by Kevin Powers and Sebastian Barry.



‘A beautifully written, tender and sensitive love story told within the tense and uncertain context of war’ – Karen Viggers, international best-selling author of The Lightkeeper’s Wife

‘A remarkable story of discovery and fidelity – setting, description, action at break-neck speed, and a bitter-sweet ending. Alexandria, its laneways, gardens and souks, and private, enclosed homes, is drawn with such clarity that the city becomes a character in its own right’ – Michael McKernan, Canberra Times

Bodies of Men is a timeless novel of love between men in wartime. While its elegant structure turns on revelations of truth and cleverly employs the tropes of traditional romance, every corner of this story is stained by a brutal and typically Australian masculinity. Details of military life are faithfully rendered, demonstrating the depth of Featherstone’s research: from the maddening desert storms, to the quirks that develop in the relationships among men; the endless training and boredom of army life, contrasted with the sudden drama of attack; and the soul-wrenching devastation that follows action. James and William themselves are such richly drawn characters, who endure well beyond these pages. Bodies of Men is, most wonderfully, a novel that says sweetness and strength in a man make for no contradiction but are two halves of a whole, and that shows each man, in his own way, is a ‘dangerous story’ – Kim Kelly, Newtown Review of Books

‘Bodies of Men is a war novel that questions war. Courage and risk-taking, passion for a cause, recklessness, fear, commitment to helping others, tenderness and kindness – all of these come into play. And, as in all good novels, there are no simple answers. A love story this might be, but a genre romance or war-story it’s not. It’s a page-turner, underpinned by a fundamental understanding of humanity. A very good read’ – Sue Terry, Whispering Gums

‘A beautiful story, so deftly constructed. And the characters. And the prose. Bodies of Men is a wonderful book’ – Sara Dowse, author of As the Lonely Fly

Bodies of Men is a profoundly moving piece of fiction from a perceptive writer’ – Mrs B’s Book Reviews

‘A strangely gentle novel about wartime conflict, violence and chaos. Featherstone explores the emotional currents running between friend and friend, child and parent, lover and lover. The novel is set in a time and place where everyone is vulnerable and anyone might be shot, betrayed, captured or abandoned, but love of all kinds endures’ – Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald

‘This is not a typical Australian WWII novel recounting stories of heroic deeds and courageous resolve. For starters, the two main characters, James and William, are in love with each other, but even the secondary characters are fascinating’ – DNA Magazine

‘A beautiful, lyrical, elegiac book of love and war. A different take on men and conflict, and a war story like no other’ – Michael Brissenden, author of The List

Bodies of Men is an intriguing story that draws you in. Featherstone brings alive the city of Alexandria, the desert landscape, as well as the complexities of people from different nationalities and backgrounds, thrown together, escaping from the war in Europe, people with secrets. We empathise with the young men, in dread of secret organisations and the brutal Provost Corps, trying to find a way to be together. A beautifully written and tender love story’ – ReadPlus

‘Unafraid of emotion, though without a moment of wretched sentimentality, Bodies of Men magnificently conveys love, courage, endurance and comradeship straining against the cataclysmic backdrop of World War II. With unobtrusively elegant prose, Featherstone has crafted a vivid evocation of the arduous complexities of love between two men inured by the traumas of conflict. The result is something very special indeed: equal parts compelling, harrowing, and tender. With exquisite artistry, Featherstone writes about people trapped in a tragic situation struggling to reconcile their responsibilities and desires’ – Simon McDonald,

‘A resonant and thematically rich experience. Featherstone has managed to find a corner of that war that has not been particularly well explored and wartime relationships between soldiers that have not often found their way into print. There is plenty that sets Bodies of Men apart from the traditions that it draws on’ – Robert Goodman,

‘A beautifully written, tender love story’ – Readings

Bodies of Men is a captivating and moving love story that acutely measures the deep paradox of the masculine condition – acts of tenderness, cruelty, affection, and fury all cascade upon one another as the lives of these men pulsate through the mind of the reader. Featherstone brings it all together in refined, unpretentious prose – war writing without sentimentality or hyperbole. There are even some ethereal notes of Michael Ondaatje in this. It’s that good – The Booktopian

‘A beautiful, tender, captivating story’ – Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village

‘Only a few pages into Bodies of Men I felt like the outside world was slowly beginning to fall away. There is something about Featherstone’s writing – his style, his voice, the way he structures and crafts his sentences with so much care and love – that gives an overall atmosphere of quiet and calmness that seeps beyond the pages. Featherstone’s unassuming and gentle style perfectly corresponds to the story crafted and narrated in this novel. It is a beautiful and moving love story between two men – one confident in his sexual identity, while the other struggles with it for the large part of the novel – set amidst World War II in Egypt. I read the last 20 pages of the novel extremely slowly: on the one hand, I wanted to know the end, although I felt where it was leading to, but on the other hand I just did not want this book to be over’ – Khulud Khamis, author of Haifa Fragments


Bodies of Men is available throughout Australia and New Zealand in all good bookstores. The novel can also be purchased through Hachette Australia direct – trade paperback, ebook, and audio book.


Please contact Lydia Tasker, Senior Publicist at Hachette Australia, on