Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I, Coup de Grace tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war: Erick, a Prussian fighting with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks; Conrad, his best friend from childhood; and Sophie, whose unrequited love for Conrad becomes an unbearable burden.
""The eerie effect of [Yourcenar's] prose . . . is all the more extraordinary in that she was not present in Lithuania in the years immediately following World War I. Her accomplishment is like that of Stephen Crane in The Red Badge of Courage or Stendahl's in the Waterloo chapters of The Charterhouse of Parma."" --Louis Auchincloss, The New York Times Book Review