Tag Archive: WWII


ALL THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (Fourth Estate, 2014)

 "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever"

 51mfo0a70zl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This engrossing novel follows the parallel lives of a young German boy (Werner Pffnig) and a young French girl (Marie Laure) caught up in the mayhem and confusion of the second world war.

The novel’s year zero is 1944 and the complex yet brilliant plotted story shifts back and forward in time.

Short chapters give the urgency of a thriller yet patiently piece together the threads that briefly and movingly bring these two blighted lives together.

Doerr unsentimentally shows us how ordinary lives are corrupted by the horror of war.

One of the real strengths of the novel is that our sympathies lie with both of the main characters even though conventionally speaking they are mortal enemies and Werner is alined with the morally depraved Hitler youth. Continue reading

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THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT directed by Alexander Mackendrick (UK, 1951)

Joining forces for the common good - Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood.

Joining forces for the common good – Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood.

Built-in obsolescence has become so much the norm these days that most of us take it for granted.

Part of this is due to the rapidity of technological advances but as devices get increasingly smaller, lighter and thinner, it often gets to the point when  these ‘improvements’ become simply ways to induce the public to buy the same product over and over again.

It also seems self-evident that it is not in the manufacturer’s interest to produce a perfect product that will last a lifetime.

This is the premise for ‘The Man In The White Suit’ in which Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness) is a brilliant research chemist in a textiles factory who invents a material that never gets dirty and never wears out. Continue reading

THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus, 2014)

flanagan2Richard Flanagan’s brilliant Booker prize-winning novel is a big book in every sense.

On one level it is an account of the horrors surrounding the construction of the Burma railway line near the end of the second world war. At the same time, it documents an ill-fated romance between a successful surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, and his Uncle’s young wife, Amy. Yet to describe this book as a historical romance would be well wide of the mark.

The Tasmanian author spent 12 years working on a novel he was clearly born to write. It is dedicated to his father who died the day it was completed. Continue reading

SMALL ISLAND

This fine novel from 1994 follows the pre and post WWII fortunes of two marriages of convenience; one black, one white. Levy constantly switches perspective in terms of time -‘before’ and ‘1948’ – and point of view with first person narratives from each of the four protagonists- Gilbert, Hortense in the black corner; Queenie and Bernard in the white.

The former couple are from the small island of Jamaica, while Queenie and Bernard are from the small island of Britain. Continue reading

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