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Musing Monday (November 11)

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Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…• Describe one of your reading habits.

• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).

• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!

• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

As today is Remembrance Day I thought my musing should relate to books and poems about war.

Poppy

Armistice Day (which overlaps with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day) is celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. Wikipedia

If I’m completely honest I despite being taught about both World Wars at school I think that reading books has helped me put what I had learnt into context. I find books that tell the stories of what it was like during wartime captivating and this interest started early on in life.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by the wonderful Judith Kerr was an early favourite. My father is Jewish and I was fascinated by this heritage even as quite a small child, although it was only on the death of my Grandfather that I realised that our surname had been anglicised on the birth of my Uncle in 1938.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Partly autobiographical, this is first of the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Judith Kerr telling the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War
Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people.
That is what happened to Anna in 1933. She was nine years old when it began, too busy with her schoolwork and toboganning to take much notice of political posters, but out of them glared the face of Adolf Hitler, the man who would soon change the whole of Europe – starting with her own small life.
Anna suddenly found things moving too fast for her to understand. One day, her father was unaccountably missing. Then she herself and her brother Max were being rushed by their mother, in alarming secrecy, away from everything they knew – home and schoolmates and well-loved toys – right out of Germany… Amazon

Link to Amazon UK

Another childhood favourite was Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden, another of my favourite authors for children.Carrie's War

‘I did a dreadful thing…or I feel that I did, and nothing can change it…’
It is the Second World War and Carrie and Nick are evacuated from London to a small town in Wales, where they are placed with strict Mr Evans and his timid mouse of a sister.
Their friend Albert is luckier, living in Druid’s Bottom with Hepzibah Green who tells wonderful stories, and the strange Mister Johnny, who speaks a language all of his own. Carrie and Nick are happy to visit Albert there, until one day when Carrie does a terrible thing – the worst thing she ever did in her life…
Based on her own childhood, Nina Bawden’s enchanting story Carrie’s War has delighted readers for almost 40 years. Amazon

Link to Amazon UK

When I read this as a child I used to wonder how all those children coped being sent away from their parents. Now as a mother, I wonder how on earth those poor women managed to carry on with their children far away being looked after by people they didn’t know.

Although the lives for those fighting the war doesn’t even bear imagining the effect it had on everyone’s view of life changed forever. Those that were around for both World Wars must have seen more pain and hardship than any other generation.

At around ten I came across The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank, written while Anne and her family were in hiding in Amsterdam.Diary of a young girl

Anne Frank and her family fled the horrors of Nazi occupation by hiding in the back of a warehouse in Amsterdam for two years with another family and a German dentist. Aged thirteen when she went into the secret annexe, Anne kept a diary. She movingly revealed how the eight people living under these extraordinary conditions coped with hunger, the daily threat of discovery and death and being cut off from the outside world, as well as petty misunderstandings and the unbearable strain of living like prisoners. Amazon

Link to Amazon UK

I was moved by the everyday writing depicting the horror of a life lived in secret. Years later I visited Anne Franks house, by now aware that my family were Dutch Jews and saw both my paternal parents surnames repeated over and over in the book of names of those who died in concentration camps. I will never forget that moment when I realised that it was due to a decision made years before, that I was even alive.

Anne Franks House

Anne Frank’s House Amsterdam

So those childhood books put into context what World War II meant to those left behind and those escaping persecution then the War Poems I studied for my English Literature O Level made me understand what it was like to fight during World War I. Without the endless dissection of those poems by my excellent teacher I don’t think I would have had anything like the understanding that I gained during those months. Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke all bought to life exactly how great every soldier’s sacrifice was.

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Stories based around the war continue to bring context to the lives of not only the soldiers but those who were left behind. Andrew Cowen bought out Worthless Men at the beginning of this year which depicts life in an anonymous English market town in 1916, where many of the men were missing, fighting for King and Country.

Click on the book cover to read my review

worthless-men

Link to Amazon UK

To the Grave by Steve Robinson has a different way of looking at the lives left behind during World War II

To the Grave

Our American Genealogist Jefferson Tayte aka JT has been employed by Eliza Gray who has received a suitcase with some effects telling her that she was in fact adopted. JT travels to Leicestershire to discover who the mysterious Mena Lasseter was. The story of Mena is based towards the end of the war in 1944/45 but the current day story has just as much, if not more to offer.
The characters are well drawn and Mena’s story is an emotional one but at the same time there is a lot of intrigue in the present day. JT finds himself in danger but who wants to cover up what happened all those years ago.
This is a stand alone story however I would suggest reading Steve Robinson’s previous book first In the Blood: A Genealogical Crime Mystery #1 (Jefferson Tayte). As before the genealogical angle is covered accurately but not laboriously so it only serves to enhance the story not get in the way of it.
This emotional, thrilling tale thoroughly deserves 5 stars, I can’t wait for the next one. Review by me

Link to Amazon UK

I just want to finish by saying that we shouldn’t forget the effects the two World Wars had not just on the soldiers who fought in them but a whole generation.

Lest we forget

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

19 thoughts on “Musing Monday (November 11)

  1. Hi Cleo

    Such a fitting blog for today.

    I especially agree with your closing comment: “I just want to finish by saying that we shouldn’t forget the effects the two World Wars had not just on the soldiers who fought in them but a whole generation.”

    Wishing comfort to all those remembering loved ones and to everyone affected by the physical and emotional damage of war.

    Jasmine Sparks
    Author of Dolly

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    1. Thank you Jasmine. People like my Grandmother who lived through both World Wars had their whole lives coloured by what had happened and although it is vitally important we give thanks to all those poor men who literally gave their lives for our freedom we remember that everyone was affected one way or another by it.

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  2. I loved Carrie’s War when I was in Primary School. Nina Bawden’s books are often quite haunting. I’m definitely going to get When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit -The title itself is worth having on the bookshelf. Thanks for the recommendation.

    One of my favourite novels about World War Two is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It reminds us of how terrible it was for the ordinary German families during the war and the effects of the Nazi regime on people who resisted indoctrination.

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    1. The Book Thief is one of many titles I considered adding to this post – there are so many books that I’ve read that really tell the story of the ordinary person and this is one of the best. I hope you enjoy When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, I dread to think how many times I read this as a child!

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    1. Thank you. I loved history and WWII was especially interesting but I think the understanding of what it all actually really meant came through reading books (and getting older) I can’t imagine sending my lovely son off to fight in a war…. terrifying thought.

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  3. I read The Diary of Anne Frank in 7th grade and agree that it is a great book. I was Anne’s age at the time and I couldn’t stop thinking how alike we were, how it could have been me in her situation, which was a horrifying thought. Most of all, I wanted to pull her out of the book, away from the fate I knew was coming, and befriend her. *wipes away tear*

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