Debs at War: 1939-45
by Anne De Courcy
Published by Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Pre-war debutantes were members of the most protected, not to say isolated, stratum of 20th-century society: the young (17-20) unmarried daughters of the British upper classes. For most of them, the war changed all that for ever. It meant independence and the shock of the new, and daily exposure to customs and attitudes that must have seemed completely alien to them. For many, the almost military regime of an upper class childhood meant they were well suited for the no-nonsense approach needed in wartime. This book records the extraordinary diversity of challenges, shocks and responsibilities they faced - as chauffeurs, couriers, ambulance-drivers, nurses, pilots, spies, decoders, factory workers, farmers, land girls, as well as in the Women's Services. How much did class barriers really come down? Did they stick with their own sort? And what about fun and love in wartime - did love cross the class barriers?
Some fascinating insights into the roles of women during wartime, the women of the Upper Classes before during and after the Second World War and into class boundaries. Sadly though, the narratives were let down by glaring contradictions between chapters, which seemed to suggest that the author had an agenda or possibly some unshakable biases. What was stated as a universal fact in one chapter, was undermined in later chapters when individual statements from interviewees contradicted those same facts. This was especially noticeable with regard to sexual attitudes, eg 'all debs were virgins' vs 'some girls were known to be having sex'.
It's shaken some of my theories, but mostly along the lines of making me more determined to read my other reference books on similar topics sooner rather than later.
Dead in the Water (Daisy Dalrymple Mystery)
by Carola Dunn
Published by Robinson Publishing
May the best man die! July, 1923, and Daisy has been invited by an American magazine to cover the Henley Regatta. But unknown to her, she steps right into a class war between two members of the Oxford rowing team. Cox Horace Bott - a shopkeeper's son and scholar student - has always hated rower Basil DeLancy - younger son of an earl and all-round cad and bully. And after a particularly brutal public humiliation by DeLancy, Bott swears revenge - so when DeLancy keels over and dies mid-race, it would seem he's made good on his promise. Yet Daisy isn't convinced, and with the help of her fiance Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, she dives into a tangled web of jealousies and secrets, where appearances are everything and good breeding may just be a cover for a killer intent on keeping Daisy mum forever.
This took me a little longer to get into than previous books in the series, mainly because I'm not that interested in rowing. Once the main characters had been established, however, I found it as difficult as usual to put the book down and actually get some sleep. Some wonderful observations on class, and some highly dislikeable suspects carried the story along even after I thought I'd guessed the murderer.
Now I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series, and wondering if Daisy and Alec will get some quiet time together beforehand.
by Lindsey Barraclough
Published by Bodley Head Children's Books
A chilling, beautiful debut novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft and revenge. Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss ...When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome, and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces' arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years. A haunting voice in an empty room ...A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard ...A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church ...Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it is too late for Mimi. Intensely atmospheric and truly compelling, this is a stunning debut.
The story was slow to get going, and I may have missed a couple of clues that were referred to later. Although flicking back I couldn't find the references either, so perhaps the characters found information 'off screen' in spite of the depth of detail covered for each day of the story. There were a couple of points where I got confused over location details too, so perhaps a map would have been useful (I've mentioned elsewhere about loving books that include maps).
I'm not feeling inspired so far to search out more by the author, although this was a debut novel and some of my concerns may have been addressed in later works.
When Will There be Good News?
by Kate Atkinson
Published by Black Swan
In rural Devon, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison. In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a G.P. But Dr Hunter has gone missing and Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried. Across town, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling towards her is an old friend -- Jackson Brodie -- himself on a journey that becomes fatally interrupted.
Jackson is once again in Edinburgh, and as before several seemingly unrelated events turn out to have complex connections to each other. Delightful new characters are introduced, the characters from previous stories continue to enthrall and exasperate in equal measure, and I found myself amused at various points as I recognised places and archetypes I know well from my time living in the city.
by Mindy Klasky
So far I've only read this in its serialised form, and feel as if I should reread it as a novel before reviewing it fully. However, I loved the world-building and the characters and would love to see more of both at some point.
I think I'm getting the hang of Goodreads, but I'll keep posting my reviews here too.