Friday, June 06, 2008

London 1945

My reading list selection for May was London 1945: Life in the Debris of War by Maureen Waller.

The book details the conditions in London in 1945. The emphasis is on the effects of the last days of the war and the beginning of peace. As I read I was amazed at the hardiness of the British people as they coped with the V-1 and V-2 bombs, the chaos of the city and of their lives, and the scarcity of everything - food, clothing, homes, building supplies. They just doggedly continued on, refusing to give up. And the hardships continued long after the war was over, although Ms. Waller doesn't dwell much on that.

It was interesting to learn what Londoners were reading at that time. Ms. Waller writes that the classics were read a lot, especially works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and others. Also, series by John Galsworthy and Hugh Walpole and books by Dorothy Sayers and Georgette Heyer were popular.

The chapter on the evacuation of the children of London could have served as the inspiration for Michelle Magorian's book, Good Night, Mr. Tom and Noel Streatfeild's book, When the Siren Wailed if those books had not been written before this one. Ms. Waller points out that for some children, their foster homes and families were better than what they left behind in London, while others were miserable in their new surroundings and couldn't wait to get back.

Also included were photos of the destruction, of shelters, celebrations, and homecomings. In conclusion, Ms. Waller notes that those in charge of rebuilding London realized that it would take 50 years to accomplish, and that time has proven them correct in their estimation, but that the city as it is now was well worth the wait.

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Anonymous hopeinbrazil said...

Thanks for the good review. I'm very interested in books about WWII but more in the "battles" on the homefront than the ones on the field. I'll put this book on my TBR list.

12:32 PM  

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