When Aunt Marie's memory starts failing, she imagines herself back during the First World War, in which two of her brothers died. This leads, in the last quarter of Fields of Glory, to the horrors of trench warfare and a vivid account of the first gas attack near Ypres. And the story ends with a 1929 trip by the brother who survived, to fetch back a body from Commercy, and the meeting of the narrator's parents in 1940 — perhaps a bridge to the sequel, since four subsequent novels continue the family saga.
Past and present are interlaced, with direct memories mixed with what must be later reconstructions. There is no linear plot. And at one point Rouaud inserts nine pages of completely general digression on the weather of the Lower Loire, on its persistent rain. Despite this, Fields of Glory never seems disconnected and never loses momentum. It is a powerful study of both old age and childhood, of the idiosyncrasies and vagaries of memory, and of the enduring impact of the Great War on an entire generation.