Friday, December 23, 2011

More WWII Historical Fiction

Since my trip to London last year I've done a lot of reading (fiction and nonfiction) about what it was like to be British during World War II. I've read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Winston Churchill: Statesman of the Century, The King's Speech, The Very Thought of You, The Postmistress,

Since I'm liking this stuff so much, The Report by Jessica Francis Kane was recommended to me and I borrowed it from a friend. It's based on an actual civilian tragedy in 1943 in the East End. One hundred and seventy-three people were killed while entering the tube station at Bethnal Green during an air raid when one woman tripped and members of the crowd were crushed against each other. The Report centers around the report written by a government official concerning the event, and the government's refusal to release that report for fear of what it would do to Londoners' morale. The book takes place both during March 1943 and 30 years later when a child affected by the tragedy is working on a documentary exposing the truth of the accident.

Though Kane's work is historical fiction, she drew heavily upon real primary sources to write the story. The characters are complicated and memorable, and show true, honest pictures of humanity. The story is a real one which makes it both wonderful and terrible to read. 

Side note: I've read the book and seen the movie of Ian McEwan's Atonement. I kept thinking back to the movie scenes in the tube station during the Blitz when I needed a visual.

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