Succeeding where Suite Francaise failed this time round, Bless 'Em All by Allen Saddler .
There's nothing I enjoy more than a novel about the Blitz so I was delighted to get my hands on this one which is exactly that and published by Peter Owen this very week.
Not only that but one of its central settings is a wholesale book warehouse in London and there are plenty of detailed references to the world and traditions of publishing at this time.
I've always had an unproved (by me) but probably obvious theory( to anyone) that the Blitz must have taken out vast stocks of readily available books by the popular authors of the time and is that why some of them are so difficult to track down now, and so expensive to buy when you do find them?
One writer I'm thinking of in particular is Richmal Crompton.
Richmal Crompton wrote the William books, for which of course she will forever be remembered very fondly. What is less well known is that she wrote about fifty novels for adults and these are very difficult to find now, just Family Roundabout in print.
I know because I have scraped together a collection of about twenty but it's taken forever and you have be very eagle-eyed to snap them up on eBay.Take a look at this random example at abebooks.
More about those next week.They are a feast of good reads and rare but lovely dust-jackets on a few, not a naff suitcase in sight.
In Bless 'Em All Allen Saddler has written a fascinating "social history" novel that as well as being a well-paced enjoyable read also presented some unusual and lesser spotted wartime attitudes, probably prevalent at the time but heavily censored in the post-war propaganda years of British Blitz spirit.The book is peopled by a lovable and sometimes less lovable cast of characters, and not always the stereotypes we might assume.You get a real sense of the desperation and disruption of people's lives and the hardships and constraints of the constant bombing.There were few if any reasons to be cheerful and more often than not people weren't and Allen Saddler certainly tells it very much like it probably was.
I shall pass it onto the Tinker as a primary historical source for his verdict.
I seem to have inadvertently slipped into a WWII reading seam and this may be a good point to resume and finish Carmen Callil's Bad Faith.On the back of my Suite Francaise failure this might lead me into it from a different slant.
Alongside Bless 'Em All I have been constantly dipping into several other companion reads, more on those soon too but this is definitely a book to add to your WWII shelf if you have one.