'The fact is that you are surplus and they need an extra body.' In the uneasy aftermath of war, a group of ordinary British soldiers and their families, on an island off Java face the legacy of hatred and corruption left by the Japanese occupation. With sudden and violent death ever present, they seize their moments of happiness and try above all else to stay alive until the opportunity for release arrives.Selfishness, sex, greed, fear and revenge, all play their part; so too do the finer instincts of love, loyalty and concern, for people have a way of both hurting and caring for one another. Men and women, soldiers and civilians, Europeans and Asians - Dirk Bogarde brings each of them alive through his marvellously witty dialogue and penetrating sense of character. At times gloriously funny, never sitting in judgement, he portrays their fallible, complex humanity as the thin skin of conventional behaviour, tautened in the corrosive atmosphere of the East Indies, gradually begins to split. First published in 1980, A Gentle Occupation is Dirk Bogarde's first novel.