Coventry by Helen Humphreys
Finished: Nov. 30, 2008
First Published: Aug. 2008
Genre: historical fiction
Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.
The swallow arcs and dives above the cathedral.
Comments: This book tells the story of Nov. 14, 1940, the evening and night that Coventry, England, an industrial town, was bombed to a wasteland by a German air raid during World War II. Two women's lives are explored in the days leading up to that fateful night and when they meet their lives are forever changed and joined together forever more.
A beautiful little novel, or perhaps better called "novella", running in at only 177 pages. English town life is deftly described. How both World Wars affected a nation of people is expressed in a simple nonetheless captivating language. Yet the horrors of experiencing and entire night of bombing air raids is chillingly effective in this stunning novel.
I have heard my own Gran (now 92) describe her fear of the air raids in England. To this day she is terrified of thunder, as it sounds like bombs dropping, and she shudders when hearing police, firetruck, etc. sirens as they remind her of the air raid sirens and the bomb shelters. Reading this book has helped me to experience that terror.
Even so, the novel is also a sentimental and bittersweet story of two women and two young men affected forever by war. I highly recommend this book. It is a quick read and well worth it.