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War Crimes for the Home - Liz Jensen
Member Name: dawnymarie
War Crimes for the Home - Liz Jensen
Date: 24/08/11, updated on 14/03/12 (120 review reads)
Advantages: WELL ROUNDED CHARACTERS - INTRIGUING PLOTLINES
Disadvantages: NONE FOR ME!
Thanks in the first instance to Caroline (Moistbabe from Ciao) for reviewing, so beautifully, this book - which led me to purchasing and reading myself. The imagery and blurb, plus impressive praise from reputable sources also encouraged me to buy.
Gloria experienced the trials of life during the Blitz. Living with her sister Marje in the family home and getting by as best they could in the difficult circumstances of war time Britain. Both girls worked in a munitions factory, which demanded much of their time - because of this they soon realised that they had to 'grab what they could' and enjoy precious moments whenever it was possible - some good and some not so good. Fifty years later, whilst residing at Sea View, Gloria's past comes back to haunt her in more ways than one. It is time for Gloria to remember what she did all those years ago.
NONE OF YOUR BEESWAX!
Written in the first person and following two plot lines I thought that this composition was skillfully crafted. The flow of the prose from one time period in the second world war - into another era some fifty years later - was flawless. The main protaganist, Gloria, is a colourful and engaging spirit from the onset. I quickly familiarised myself with her quirky traits and often found her high spirited and amusing. Though she could also be coarse and there is use of bad language periodically throughout the book. I warmed to Gloria and developed empathy and sympathy for her.
I have never really considered what life must have been like in the war - Gloria made me sit up and take notice. I found this book to be thought provoking. Gloria and her sister Marje lived by a rule - if you have a chance of love then you must grab it with both hands and hold onto it. You had to live for the day as tomorrow you may be dead! And it was dog eat dog too - nobody was off limits if there was a small glimmer of hope that you may find love. Love is what Gloria desired and when she did finally get that chance she discovered that she would do much more than she ever dreamed off in order to secure it. I considered that Gloria's choices and behavior where believable and could imagine how your ethics and morals would change if you had no choice but to live each day as if it where your last.
The research into this era was impressive - all of my senses were aroused as I entered a time when food was limited, hunger was common, cosmetics were scarce, hosiery was rare - and improvisation was used to make the most of your assets. A night out was eagerly anticipated and the music of the era was brought to mind along with smells and sounds. I imagined what it was like to be in total darkness at night time to avoid attracting German bombers.
The supporting characters where developed appropriately and I gained enough information about them to recognise their personality and qualities. I can't say that I warmed to any of them to the extent that I did to Gloria, though I could empathise with them.
As the story continues there are difficult times ahead for Gloria in the Blitz. One being that she will see her sister leave the family home to work in London and her boyfriend, Ron, will return to action in the war - meaning that she has compulsory tenants living with her. I could not even begin to imagine how difficult that would be, but I soon get a taste of what it may be like from Gloria's account. This really did spark an interest in the war and I intend finding out more about what life was like in the towns and villages of war time Britain.
The prose jumps from one era to the other throughout the book and 50 years on Gloria is portrayed sensitively as an elderly lady with memory problems - this too is thought provoking and at times brings a smile to my face with the gentle humor that is blended in. Gloria has a son, Hank, who wants to find out something of great importance to him - I got the impression that it was urgent. Among a stream of visitors is an intriguing lady called Jill who quizzes Gloria repeatedly about the past I wondered why? The only problem is that Gloria cannot remember her past - or is it that she will not allow herself to. 'Mind your own Beeswax' is what Gloria thinks about anyone prying into her past and she can become assertive and stubborn when Hank attempts to get the truth from her. Gloria experiences dream type states and memory loss - this confuses her at times as she wonders what is reality. The muddled musings and inappropriate responses to questions where completely credible - sometimes amusing and frequently poignant. It was obvious that Gloria was suffering and sometimes there were tears in her eyes when she was prompted to divulge the past - I felt so sorry for her on these occasions. I was mindful of the suffering that Hank was experiencing too and could understand why he was so persistent.
As the final stages of the story unfold I could not have guessed what Gloria was keeping hidden within her. I was surprised and the revelations stayed with me for some time after completing the book. This is were the two plot lines really merged together nicely and I appreciated how meticulously the prose had been developed. All loose ends were tied up nicely and the conclusion was completely satisfactory.
NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book right from the first page. I was captivated, I wanted to know what was going to happen. I was interested in what it was like to live in war time Britain and at times I was shocked. Gloria made me giggle, smile, cringe and cry! Some use of bad language and sex themes are included occasionally but that would not deter me from reading the book again. The plot lines where solid and ran alongside each other fluidly and I did not find it confusing. Themes within the prose include betrayal, love, suffering, hate, revenge, remorse and denial. The subject of memory problems was introduced sensitively and afforded me a better understanding of what it is like for all concerned. Though Gloria's story is somewhat poignant the book is full of humor - including numerous jokes which Gloria loved - I had a smile on my face throughout. There are some fantastic moments at Sea View with Gloria's friend Ed! Reading is believing! This was an eye opening, entertaining and heartbreaking read.
BITS AND BOBS
PRICE: £5.59 from Amazon.co.uk at the time of reviewing.
AVAILABILITY: Amazon & most good book stores.
Thanks for reading the review, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and warmed to Gloria - I will miss her but shall read the book again in the future. I can recommend it highly. The review will also be published on Ciao under my username dawnymarie.
Summary: GLORIA IS SIMPLY GLORIOUS!