Over Christmas, I spent a bunch of time at my parents’ place, which always gives me a chance to poke through my old bookshelves and muse about old favourites. So I’ve been thinking for a while about more book recommendations. Today’s theme is “I don’t really like war stories, except sometimes I do.”
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Do I even need to recommend this? It deservedly gets love all over the internet – I love when the Internet Hype Machine hypes the right things. This book is wonderful and devastating and it’s like a love story about friendship. I have a soft spot for books that treat friendship like it’s valuable and important instead of some sort of understudy to romance. Also, Nazis, pilots, spies.
Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis: Time travelling historians visit the Blitz for research and get stuck there. I was actually a bit stressed reading these because they’re full of late trains, missed connections and unanswered messages, but that’s also what appeals to me about them. I mean, of course all this war and death is very upsetting but I’m always weirdly interested in the practicalities. What if you have to get to work but there were bombs last night and the street is impassable? What if you ran for it and left your coat and now clothes are rationed? What if you’re waiting for a phone call but you spent the last three nights in bomb shelters and haven’t been able to get home?
Farthing by Jo Walton: Okay, it’s perhaps a stretch to call this one a war story, but I call the shots here. It’s an alternate history where England made peace with Hitler early on, and it’s also a cosy mystery where there is a mysterious death at a country house. I am a sucker for alternate histories because I am always saying “what if…” or “if only…” There are two sequels, Ha’penny and Half a Crown, which are also excellent.
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff: And, moving on from World War Two, I guess you could call this a World War Three story, where Daisy gets sent off by her father to stay with cousins in England. Then a war starts. This one is perfect and gorgeous; Daisy is prickly and hilarious and resourceful and just go read it now.