Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Stuck in WWII Reading

My recent reading has all been about or set in WWII.

First N or M

Agatha Christie - N or M. Crime Fiction (Published 1941). This is one of her Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries, which for some reason I didn't read back in the 70's when I read dozens of her other books. I've had a copy on my shelves for more than 5 years so about time it was read and sold.
It is WWII and Britain faces a threat from "the enemy within". The intelligence service appoint Tommy Beresford - a very unlikely spy- to find out what connection a boarding house in the fictional Leahampton has with Germany. His wife Tuppence overhears the discussion and decides to be part of the investigation too.  A light quick read.

From my shelves I pulled this book which I've had for a couple of years  (there are a few for sale under £1 if you are interested - even less than I paid.)
 Fighting Fit; The Wartime Battle for Britain's Health

The blurb says......................
At the beginning of the Second World War, medical experts predicted epidemics of physical and mental illness on the home front. Rationing would decimate the nation's health, they warned; drugs, blood and medical resources would be in short supply; air raid shelters and evacuation would spread diseases; and the psychological effects of bombing raids would leave mental hospitals overflowing. Yet, astonishingly, Britain ended the war in better health than ever before.
Based on original archival research and written with wit and verve, FIGHTING FIT reveals an extraordinary, forgotten story of medical triumph against the odds. Through a combination of meticulous planning and last-minute scrambling, Britain succeeded in averting, in Churchill's phrase, the 'dark curse' on the nation's health. It was thanks to the pioneering efforts of countless individuals - doctors, nurses, social workers, boy scouts, tea ladies, Nobel Prize winners, air raid wardens, housewives, nutritionists and psychologists - who battled to keep the nation fit and well in wartime. As Laura Dawes shows, these men and women not only helped to win the war, they paved the way for the birth of the NHS and the development of the welfare state.
I really enjoyed this book and much of it seemed so apt for our present times. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of how the country prepared or not and how everyone worked to solve the problems when imports had to stop. The story about the lack of laboratories for testing seemed familiar and the chapter on lice made me itch!

Next.............Carola Oman - Somewhere in England. First published in 1943.
This is the second of two books I had for my birthday by this author published in the Furrowed Middlebrow imprint by Dean Street Press. I read the first

a few weeks ago and didn't give it a glowing report and promptly forgot the whole story and characters. So with all the time in the world for reading I decided to re-read Nothing to Report before starting Somewhere in England and I'm glad I did as it was much better second time around. I would compare them to a cross between Angela Thirkell and DE Stevenson - so quite light and enjoyable.
At the end of the first book the main character  had just resumed her nursing career at the beginning of WWII and in the second we join her again 2 years later when she has just married and her new husband (who she knew when she was much younger but lost touch with for many years) has bought her old country home to turn it into a cottage hospital for injured soldiers which she is running with the help of a nasty Matron and several young nurses.

Then finally  I sent for this from Waterstones with the last bit of the £50 shop4all voucher I got when I changed my house was a big disappointment.
The author writes about her Lent experience of living on war rations - except she doesn't! It could have been so much better. She doesn't say what she ate each week - except for including a few recipes. There is only half a page of each weeks diary looking back at wartime rations and there seems to be a lot of breathing, feeling grounded and thinking. That's all fine if the book had been called "changing the way we think about food in a global market".

I'm sure some people will have read it and enjoyed it - but in my opinion it ought to have had a different title.

I've got no posts in drafts at the moment and as I've injured my knee again ( like last December but not quite as bad) I can't do anything to write about so I'm taking a few days off the blog.

Back in a while


  1. Rest your knee, and catch up on reading. Thanks for the reviews (esp the last one... I'd wondered if that book would be worth reading. You've saved me the time and bother)

  2. Sorry to hear you have injured your knee again, time for some rest and relaxation me thinks. I'm re-reading Stephen Booth books, he writes crime fiction based in the Peak District near to where I live so that's an added interest. Looking. Take care x

  3. Rest, if that's what's best for healing. My back injury reared it's ugly head this week too. Not much else we can do, is there?

  4. Oh dear, I hope your knee comes right quickly.
    The 'Fighting Fit' book sounds intriguing - it just shows that humanity has faced dreadful health situations before and triumphed through them.
    Take care of that knee and look after yourself, Mxx

  5. Sorry your knee is playing up again, try and rest if you can. Hope you find a nice book to get into to past the time. Look forward to chatting to you soon.
    Hazel c uk 🌈🌈🌈

  6. Such a nuisance about your knee but the silver lining is time to read, chill, maybe catch up with telly, etc.
    (looking for the positive!)

  7. Poor you, I hope your knee is better soon. Put your feet up!

  8. Hope your knee gets better it is frustrating when we are unable to get about and do things we want or like to do. Good time for reading though, I have been reading more about our local history and discovered so much I did not know.

  9. I had the frozen peas out yesterday. RICE.

  10. I quite enjoyed The Rations Challenge book but I know a couple of bloggers who could do SO much better than she did and write about it in a more interesting way.

  11. Hope your knee is better soon.

  12. Hope the aching knee doesn't plague you for too long. Joys of aging...and all that.:)

  13. Given the horrible weather forecast for tomorrow, I would say it is an ideal time to rest that knee and read a book, or three. I have noted some of those titles down ready for the next time I am given a voucher.

  14. I hope you feel better soon. Rest that knee!

  15. Take care of your knee! Sounds like some really interesting reading.

  16. I like the sound of the Carola Oman books. Hope you're feeling a bit better in yourself and your knee heals quickly. Take care. xx

  17. Glad you have been resting your knee and reading - or did you do it in the wrong order, read and then do your knee in?!

    I've just started another in a genealogical series by Nathan Dylan (The Spyglass Files). A friend is keeping me provided with these and I can recommend them (this is 4 or 5 I think).

    She also loaned me a series of 3 books which I am really struggling with - poorly written and I am thinking, do I really want to waste my reading time on them? BUT she went to the trouble (and expense) of posting them so I feel I ought to persevere . . .

  18. At first I wondered whether this was going to be a post about being stuck in a large Berkshire town during the nineteen-forties.

  19. I hope the knee responds to heat and rest. Recurring injuries are so annoying - you thin you've "got it sorted" and it comes back to bite you. Get better soon.

  20. oh no to the knee, hope it feels better quickly.

    The covers of all the books are really lovely. I'm someone who judges a book by their covers!

    Hope the weekend is good. x

  21. I’m reading in the 1940s too at the moment, a shopkeeper’s diary for the Mass Observation. It’s quite interesting, but VERY heavy on points/ration books and not much on her life outside of the shop. But I guess she had very little time for anything else.

    Sorry you’ve injured your knee again, I hope it heals soon :)

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