Saturday, September 30, 2006

Liz Jensen: War Crimes for the Home

Another one from E's care package. And I'm very glad she sent me this one, as I'd never have picked it up myself. It's a very sad and brutally honest tale about a young girl in Bristol during the war, and I found it very touching. We get to know her as an old woman in a nursing home, remembering bits and pieces from the past after her stroke. Her only son has just discovered that she might have lied to him about his background all his life, and starts pressuring her for facts. The young GI from Chicago - was he really her husband, and the father of her child? I don't want to reveal too much about the story, as the gradual unravelling of Gloria's painful wartime past is the whole point of the book. I found it hugely refreshing to read an account of life in wartime Britain that wasn't so to speak coloured by nostalgia, by a sense of loss when thinking about a time when the country united in defiance of Hitler, and shared camaraderie while making jam out of carrots (as Bridget Jones puts it). Gloria's war is harrowing trudgery, with sex as a highlight. It's very sad, but also very funny in parts. Highly recommended, I'm going to read more of Jensen's work.

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