Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
The Love-charm of Bombs has a very interesting slant on life during and immediately after WWII because its focus is the experiences of five noteworthy authors, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay, Hilde Spiel, and Henry Yorke, who wrote under the name Henry Green. Since it discusses the way the war affected what they wrote in such fascinating detail, it added a number of books to my already over long to-be-read list, so be forewarned.
This book opens during the Blitz of London when four of the authors had active roles in the late night, class-mixing, civilian mobilization that played a crucial part in protecting the city. Rose Macaulay spent her nights driving an ambulance to still smoking ruins to collect the wounded, Henry Green put out sometimes raging bomb-ignited fires as an auxiliary fireman, and Elizabeth Bowen and Graham Greene roamed pitch-dark streets to enforce the blackout as ARP wardens. Nightly danger and the high drama of their jobs became a kind of aphrodisiac so all of them were involved in passionate affairs that had a lifelong influence on the stories they wrote. As a more isolated young mother and an Austrian writer in exile, Hilde Spiel’s experiences during the war were different but equally absorbing and they round out the book.
The book continues to follow the writers’ upturned lives and intense love affairs into the early post war years when Europe was restructuring and Cold War was starting. For most of the five, the Blitz was the high point of their lives, filled with excitement and purpose, and for me the vivid chapters that covered that time are the most engrossing part of the book, though I enjoyed all of it. The interconnected WWII experiences of these highly literate civilians make compelling reading, especially since The Love Charm of Bombs is written with a sort of fervent scholarship.