The Second World War

Sometimes I’m amazed at the links between the books I’m reading. I read the following books by choosing them individually without realising that they all had similar themes. Recently I read One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes, set in England in 1946 just after the Second World War had ended. Then I read Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham set in 1943/4 up to the present day and now I’ve just started The Great Fortune by Olivia Manning, set in Bucharest at the start of the War (currently I’m in the ‘Phoney War’ period. I’m also joining a local book group my friend goes to and the book for discussion is Surveillance by Jonathan Raban. I picked up that book yesterday and started to read it. To my surprise, although it’s set in Seattle post 9/11 one of the characters, a journalist has been assigned to interview a historian, who had been ‘an orphaned child caught up in the worst barbarities of World War Two’, spending his boyhood ‘among the displaced and terrorized people of central Europe, overrun now by Hitler’s, now by Stalin’s armies’.

I didn’t plan on reading books about the War at all and it was quite by chance that it was near to Remembrance Sunday, but it all seems so appropriate. I decided I should know more about the War and so went to the library. There were so many books that I decided to get a couple of books specifically about D-Day as my father took part in the Normandy landings and also a huge book called Chronicle of the Second World War. I then went to a bookshop and was spoilt for choice with an enormous range of books to choose from. In the end I bought Wartime Britain 1939 – 1949 by Juliet Gardiner. Juliet was the editor of History Today for five years, a research fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, author of several wartime books, and historical consultant for Channel 4’s The 1940s House and The Edwardian Country House. Thank you to Litlove who recommended this book. I thought it looked a good place to start.

So, I’ve now got lots to get me started on my search to know more about the War.

11 thoughts on “The Second World War

  1. My friend Mary has this theory that books talk to each other and you always end up finding connections between your reading that you never thought were going to exist. I am always amazed at how often she is right.


  2. You’re very welcome! I thought of another wonderful WW2 book – Penelope Fitzgerald’s Human Voices, which is all about the BBC in wartime. So very beautifully written, you can’t gobble it down even though it’s only short. It’s like a box of Belgian chocolates!


  3. What an interesting comment that Ann made regarding books “talking” to each other. I think that is true. I often find similarities in themes or other things in books that I read that I never expected.Enjoy your WWII project. I really enjoyed 1940s House.


  4. I came over from Danielle’s blog and have not yet read your blog other than this post but will begin shortly. I comment only because I am an amateur World War II historian and that my father flew with the 8th Army Air Corps out of England over Germany. He survived the war and went on to retire with 30 years in the U.S. Air Force.Have your ever read Herman Wouk’s Historical Romance Fiction account of the war? His two volume books are Winds of War taking us from around 1939 until Pearl Harbor and War and Remembrance taking us to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese. I have studied many of the non-fiction accounts of the war and battles but I found in these two books the most human perspective of the war than in any of the other books I have


  5. I second Edd’s comment on Herman Wouk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance books. I think I told you earlier that I am rereading them (a bit at a time) right now. I’m finding them just as fascinating as I did years ago when I first tried them. I’ll probably look up the DVDs for the movie version later. I never did watch that.


  6. Ann I agree with Mary’s theory!Litlove, what an enticing analogy. I haven’t read any Peneople Fitzgerald – yet.Edd, welcome. I’ll have to look out for Wouk’s books. Thanks to you and Kay for the recommendation.


  7. Have you read Captain Correlli’s mandoline? The book is fantastic but I thought the film a disaster. My favourite character in the book was … Psipsina. I now have a cat with that name.


  8. Look forward to your thoughts on Wartime Britain, it sounds like it might be the kind of thing I might be interested in. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for One Fine Day.


  9. Middle Ditch – no, but I saw the film, which made me think I wouldn’t read the book. Maybe I will one day.Cath I hope you get to One Fine Day. I think I’ll be a while reading Wartime Britain – it’s a long book!


  10. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I go to the library and check out 10 books, as many as 6 will have some connection. Once I checked out several books that referenced Nova Scotia; there was nothing in the title to indicate that coincidence. Once almost every book had a reference to Paracelsus. Coincidences like that make me feel that not only do books talk to each other, but that they practice some form of ESP that guides your hand.And along with anonymous, my father was with the 8th Army Air Corp (he was stationed at Debach), I’ve read Wouk’s works and many other fiction and nonfiction about the war.


  11. Isn’t it weird how so many books will relate to each other that you happen to be reading? I have both trilogies by Olivia Manning and am looking forward to reading them! I’ll have to look for the Gardiner book. I loved the Edwardian Country House series and will have to borrow the 1940s one as well. This is a fascinating period!


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