Tagged with Second world war novels

Sunset over Soho by Gladys Mitchell (1943)

This novel – one of the Mrs Bradley mystery series for which its author is chiefly known – centres around the strange discovery of the body of an old man in a makeshift coffin following a London air raid. The opening of the novel finds the inscrutable sleuth-psychologist (her day job is working as psychiatric … Continue reading

Holdfast by A. G. Street (1946)

Shedding a relatively rare light on the plight of rural England in time of war, this novel by A. G. Street (author of the better-known Farmer’s Glory (1932)) concentrates on the story of a single farm in the south west of England. It centres on the character of Phoebe Carpenter, a young farmer’s wife who … Continue reading

The English Air by D. E. Stevenson (1940)

This novel by Edinburgh-born writer D. E. Stevenson (her father’s cousin was Robert Louis Stevenson) centres upon the story of Franz (‘Frank’) Von Heiden, the son of a Nazi official and an English woman, and is set in the run-up to, and early days of the Second World War. Ostensibly in England on a private … Continue reading

Those Who Remain by Eileen Tremayne (1942)

Shuttling between London and the secluded village of ‘Eldbury’ in the early part of the Second World War, this novel concerns the plight of a single family as they retreat to the relative safety of the countryside, while outside events develop and gradually begin to impinge on their lives. References to the previous war, together … Continue reading

To All the Living by Monica Felton (1945)

This novel gives an account of the experience of a group of men and women working in a munitions factory (‘Blimpton’, near the town of Dustborough) during the Second World War. Felton supplies a detailed, not to say exhaustive picture of the innumerable challenges involved in managing such a site, intermingled with the inevitable and … Continue reading

The Unready Heart by Richard Sherman (1944)

Not a writer readily associated with depictions of wartime London (or indeed with longer fiction), Sherman ‘s short novel focuses on the plight of one Barbara Loomis, who, having escaped to the capital from her home-town of Leeds, is disappointed to have her quest for personal autonomy rudely interrupted by the untimely advent of the … Continue reading

Mr Bunting Goes to War by Robert Greenwood (1941)

Greenwood’s irony-laden tale of the ‘little man’ in time of war (and successor to the well-received Mr Bunting (1940)) shows clear shades of the likes of Mr Pickwick and The Diary of a Nobody’s  hapless protagonist, Charles Pooter. Here, however, the backdrop is altogether more ominous, as this distinguished literary-comic lineage is transposed to the … Continue reading

Enduring Adventure by Norah C. James (1944)

This novel (by the author of the earlier and better known Sleeveless Errand) supplies a lucid account of life on the home front, and in particular the experience of the London blitz, giving voice to the trials, fears, doubts and frustrations undergone by those involved. That the author is, at least in part, concerned to buoy … Continue reading

The Squad Goes Out by Robert Greenwood (1943)

This novel (whose author is perhaps better known as the author of the slightly earlier ‘Mr Bunting’ novels) centres on the work of a voluntary ambulance squad during the London blitz. The novel depicts the personal struggles and internal tensions within the squad and its individual members, with the implicit (though not entirely persuasive) sense … Continue reading

There were no Windows by Norah Hoult (1946)

This is by turns a moving and unsettling tale of an elderly woman, Claire Temple – once a revered literary hostess and author – now facing the onset of dementia against the background of the London blitz. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is a rather claustrophobic read at times, as (like Claire herself) the setting of the … Continue reading