Almost a Great Escape

Almost a Great Escape

by Tyler Trafford
  • english-from-canada
  • history-politics-current-affairs
  • literary
  • memoir

Following his mothers death in 2004, Tyler Trafford discovers an album of old letters and creased photographs that reveal a mother he never knew, a man hes never heard of, and a love affair doomed by class and circumstance. The letters are from Jens Müller, a Norwegian pilot who trained in Canada during the early days of World War II, one of only three prisoners who would make it home after The Great Escape.

In Almost a Great Escape, Trafford takes us on a journey of emotional discovery and dramatic disclosure as he reconstructs his mothers life, from her youth as a wealthy Montreal debutante to her final days as a broken but unbent casualty of a loveless marriage. His search for answers takes him across Canada and then across the ocean to Norway, hoping to learn more about the mystery of this secret relationship.

Written with a fluidity fueled by heart-wrenching honesty, Traffords unconventional memoir confirms that while you can survive your past, you can never escape from it. Almost a Great Escape includes photographs as well as excerpts and reproductions of telegrams and letters Jens sent from England and Stalag Luft III.


Tyler Trafford, author

Tyler Trafford worked for many years as a reporter and editor first with the Calgary Herald, then in Australia with the Australian and later with the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. When he returned to Canada, he began writing biographies, histories, and works of fiction, including The Story of Blue Eye, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Grant McEwan Author's Award. He now divides his time between Calgary and his studio on the Oldman River near Pincher Creek, Alberta.


  • As his own reflections intermingle with Alice's letters, the book becomes a moving story of love between a mother who dreamed of being a writer and a son who became one. - Publishers Weekly Link to review
  • There are a handful of characters in a reader's life that are real, their wakes resonating like ghosts. Such is Alice Tyler, conjured by her son, writer Tyler Trafford, in his epistolary biography, "Almost a Great Escape". She is so evoked you will taste her in a glass of vodka.... Trafford's writing swims with the heady heat of a slow, balmy, never-ending childhood summer. He builds towers with his words, stacking adjectives to describe the slow-motion escape of a lovesick war hero and building to a satisfying, thought-provoking conclusion. - Scene
  • This is not a sentimental love story. It belongs in another, higher category. It's one that people of both sexes and any age past puberty will appreciate. And incidentally, it's a fine piece of writing and composing. - The Guardian


  • Alberta Readers' Choice Award
  • Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
  • W.O. Mitchell Book Prize

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency



rights available: World, excl. Canada, Italy

Additional Information

number of pages: 272

publication date: 03/12/2013

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book