Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tea and book thoughts on a cloudy morning...

I've been experiencing technical problems this morning, so I have less time to write than I had hoped, but I'd rather get a short post out there now than wait until I have a chance for a longer post, which may not be until next week.

I finished The Ash Garden by Dennis Bock last night.  It is my next book club selection, chosen because it deals with the effects of the war experience on survivors, and with Remembrance Day coming up, it seemed like a good choice.  I've read this book before (it was first published in 2001), and while I couldn't remember much about the story or characters, I remembered that I enjoyed it and thought it was well-written.  Having just finished it again, I still feel that way about this book.  The main characters are Anton Boll, a scientist from Germany who fled to America to help perfect the atomic bomb, his wife Sophie, a refugee from Austria, and Emiko, a woman who, as a young girl, was injured in but survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and has grown up to become a documentary film maker.  At the time of the story, she is making a documentary film about the bombing of Hiroshima.  Bock presents an interesting juxtaposition of stories in this novel, that of the creator of the bomb with that of a survivor.  It explores the psychological damage that the war, and the bombing, had on both parties, and explores how each person copes with their guilt and shame in one case, and blame and anger in the other.  I would recommend this book to anyone interesting in looking at these aspects of war.  I hope my book club members enjoyed it, but I have no doubt that there will be much lively discussion around this novel.

This book got me thinking of other books about war that I have either read or know about.  I have a short list, just off the top of my head and in no particular order:

The Thin Red Line by James Jones, which I have on my bookshelf and have been meaning to read for some time (I haven't even seen the movie!).  This novel takes place in WWII and explores the experiences of combat for the soldiers taking part in battle.

Three-Day Road by Joseph Boyden, which was the One Book, One Community selection a few years ago.  It explores the experiences of two young Cree soldiers in WWI.

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys, which I also have on my bookshelf and have been meaning to read.  This novel, set in WWII, explores the experiences of a young woman who is transferred from her job as a horticulturalist in London to an estate in Devon where she is to supervise Land Girls in growing potatoes for the war effort.

And on last book:  On the Beach by Nevil Shute, a post-apocalyptic novel set in WWIII.  The nuclear fallout which has devastated most of the world is moving towards Australia and those living there have to prepare for its inevitable arrival and their certain death by radiation poisoning.

What an uplifting list of books I've just presented!  There are plenty more where I've left off.  If I had more time, I could speculate about the reasons wars are so often the topic and/or setting for novels... maybe next time.

Bye for now!
Julie

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