Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 6, 2015

The London Blitz

Holland House library damaged during the Blitz

Holland House library damaged during the Blitz, London. Photo courtesy of International Center of Photography, Museum Purchase, 2014. See this website for more background and context on this image.

Seventy-five years ago tomorrow, on September 7, 1940 at 4:00pm, German bombers dropped the first bombs of the Blitz on London. The bombing campaign would continue for an astounding 57 consecutive days and didn’t totally end until May 1941, leaving scars on London that still exist today.

It’s no surprise that “a story set against the blacked-out ruins of London’s Blitzed streets is bound to be chock-a-block full of bravery, glory, adventure, tragedy and triumph,” as Booklists for Bookworms put it.

Here are seven novels in the Oakland Public Library collection (and one you can request through Link+) that use the Blitz and its aftermath as backdrop, plot or jumping off point:

Blackout by Connie Willis (SF WILLIS) (not at Montclair) and its sequel, All Clear – When a time-travel lab suddenly cancels assignments for no apparent reason and switches around everyone’s schedules, time-traveling historians Michael, Merope and Polly find themselves in World War II, facing air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (FIC WATERS) – Set in different periods of 1940s London, including the Blitz, as three women and one man repeatedly cross paths.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (FIC BLAKE) – In London covering the Blitz with Edward R. Murrow, Frankie Bard meets a Cape Cod doctor in a shelter and promises that she’ll deliver a letter for him when she finally returns to the United States.

Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler (MYS FOWLER) (not at Montclair) – A modern-day murder mystery that includes flashbacks to a “vivid re-creation of police work and Londoners’ lives during the Blitz.” (Booklist)

Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus (FIC MacMANUS) (not at Montclair) – Harry Hopkins, a trusted adviser of President Roosevelt, arrives in Blitz-torn London to negotiate with Winston Churchill and becomes romantically involved with a young woman who works as a British spy.

The Fire Fighter by Francis Cottam (not in OPL – see Link+) – “Autumn, 1940, and the Luftwaffe is firebombing London, a capital rendered virtually defenseless by a legacy of appeasement and governmental incompetence. Jack Finlay, a young man already notorious for his capacity to fight fires, and men, is hauled reluctantly back from his artillery unit in the Western Desert. Finlay’s Liverpool past is murky but London needs him now – no questions asked – to wage an elemental battle on streets made strange by the scale of the destruction.” (Amazon)

Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt (FIC BYATT) (not at Montclair) – As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. As she struggles to make sense of her new wartime life, she is given a book of ancient Norse myths that transforms her inner and outer worlds.

8 Novels Set in the London Blitz, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library


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