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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 27 December 2019

"Carrie's War" by Nina Bawden

A newly-widowed mother, on holiday with her children, revisits the Welsh village to which she was evacuated during the war, and tells her children the story of what happened there. "After all, what happened wasn't my fault, couldn't have been, it just didn't make sense ... I did a dreadful thing, the worst thing of my life ... and nothing can change it." (C 1). A thus, with the frame narrative providing the hood, we can flashback and develop the story at leisure, and learn about the characters: Carrie, aged twelve, and her younger brother Nick and their hosts mean Mr Evans who keeps the shop and his down-trodden sister Auntie Lou; and the other lot she discovers at the farm: Hepzibah Green and the idiot Mister Johnny and the boy they are hosting: bookish Albert Sandwich.

This is a classic tale about the misunderstandings of a child. A simple narrative with great characters (Albert's role is as truth teller and wise man at the age of 14) and a carefully constructed plot:

  • Use of the frame to provide a hook and thus allow more time for early character building
  • Discovery of the farmhouse with Hepzibah and Mister Johnny and Albert just after the quarter mark
  • Albert kisses Carrie at almost exactly half way. Almost immediately Carrie's relationship with Mr Evans changes and Auntie Lou develops a love interest.
  • Carrie says the wrong thing just before the three-quarters mark, which is when the Will goes missing (or does it?)
  • Carrie does the bad thing in the middle of the last quarter. But the final twist in the framed story has still to come.

Some great moments.

  • "It was her nature to look on the bright side. If she found herself in Hell ... she'd just say, 'Well, at least we'll be warm'." (C 2)
  • "I would hate to be ordinary" (C 7)
  • "Rich people's charity can be a cold business." (C 8)

A wonderfgul read. December 2019; 192 pages

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