Selasa, 05 Juni 2012

Five From The Archive (no.2)

Thanks for all your encouragement for Five from the Archive last week - it was great to hear your suggestions, and I think this will be a fun feature.  (If you missed my explanation for this new feature, click here for no.1.)  Now I've even made myself a logo for it!  Feel free to borrow it if you want to use the idea.  This week...

Five... Books Set in World War II

1.) Miss Ranskill Comes Home (1946) by Barbara Euphan Todd

In short: Published by Persephone Books, this novel tells of Miss Ranskill, a woman who was stranded on a desert island and returns to find England at war - and is mystified by this 'brave new world'.

From the review: "Miss Ranskill Comes Home has plenty of comedy, but it is comedy heavily dosed with pathos and even a tinge of the tragic. Certain scenes, such as that where Miss R tries and fails to give a speech to a local society on Life on a Desert Island, are painful to read in their awkward sadness. But the novel still manages to have plenty of light-hearted moments alongside."

2.) Put Out More Flags (1942) by Evelyn Waugh

In short: a satire on the War Office and its administration attempts - especially concerning evacuees, all with Waugh's recognisably spiky humour.

From the review: "Waugh's idea of humour is mostly on the mark, and he uses comic language superbly (I laughed out loud several times) but too often the undercurrent was too nasty for me. I need to read a Wodehouse or two as an antidote."

3.) Suite Francaise (2004) by Irene Nemirovsky

In short: Two books in a planned trilogy, about life in Occupied France.  Written with an astonishing ability to see the human in everyone, especially since Nemirovksy would later tragically die at Auschwitz - the manuscripts for these novellas were discovered decades later.

From the review: "Nemirovsky is an incredibly gifted novelist. Had these been further edited; had the trilogy been complete, this could have been one of twentieth century's most important works."

4.) A House in the Country (1944) by Jocelyn Playfair

In short: Another Persephone title, about war and the home front - captivating, complex Cressida takes in paying guests, and awaits the return of her soldier husband.

From the review: "A House in the Country is not a cosy paean to countryside ways, but a deep, moving, and surprisingly controversial novel. [...Playfair is] brave in her extremely honest, often critical discussions of warfare. Characters suggest that war is futile; that few soldiers know why they are fighting, and that ideals are far below blind obedience, when it comes to motive."

5.) Henrietta's War (1985) by Joyce Dennys

In short: The serialised diaries of an average woman during war, published in a magazine during the war and later republished together.

From the review: "Henrietta represents the middle-class women in England, plucky and determined to carry on as normally as possible. [...] Henrietta's War is quite simply a wonderful, witty, charming, and occasionally very moving book."

Over to you - which titles would you suggest?

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