Monday, June 12, 2017

Goodnight from London, by Jennifer Robson

Historical fiction is educational as well as entertaining, and this one excels at historical verisimilitude. Even though WWII is a period I've researched lot, there was plenty to learn from this latest novel by Jennifer Robson.

While following the ups and downs of Ruby, an American columnist on loan to a London magazine called Picture Weekly, I learned new details about daily life during the blitz and women's roles in WWII.

The author sensitively conveys the confusing cultural differences that Ruby must meet with understanding and tolerance. As the shy American orphan adapts to a new kind of life, she learns to value the courage and tenacity of her beleaguered hosts, and finds friends in whom she can confide. She also adopts a homeless cat and falls in love.

I'd heard about Morrison shelters, but Morrison sandwiches were new. I knew a fair bit about rationing, but was unaware that all restaurant meals were off-ration. It was also fascinating to learn how much time and effort famous actors and singers devoted to entertaining military personnel and others doing war work. ENSA performers included Vera Lynn, John Gielgud, Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier.

Having read a great deal about SOE, I suspected long before Ruby did what her sweetheart was up to that made him so secretive.

This novel was partly inspired by the author's journalist grandmother, her historian father, and the many WWII veterans she interviewed in the course of her history studies at Oxford. Jennifer Robson has also written a fascinating trilogy of novels set in WWI. Definitely, a writer to watch.

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