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I fancy reading something set in the 1940s- any recommendations?

(72 Posts)
tethersend Thu 13-Sep-12 22:09:22


SuePurblybilt Fri 14-Sep-12 21:14:13

Mariana (one of my faves) couldn't be more English grin

Stella Gibbons - the Matchmaker. Very English, just post-war I think.

Have you tried Mrs Miniver? Jan Struther - wartime 'diaries' -really columns for the papers. Much better than the film.

Waswondering Fri 14-Sep-12 21:18:08

(LOVE A Town Like Alice too. Awesome book.)

nellyjelly Fri 14-Sep-12 21:19:19

The Nightwatch.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Fri 14-Sep-12 21:21:35

Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley. It is a lovely story.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Fri 14-Sep-12 21:22:01

The Little Stranger is set in the post-war 1940s.

fivegomadindorset Fri 14-Sep-12 21:26:29

A Town Like Alice,
The Far Country
Pied Piper

fridakahlo Fri 14-Sep-12 21:33:25

Mary Wesley, Mary Wesley, Mary Wesley. I love her books, she is also quite an inspirational person, did not get published until in her seventies!

DuchessofMalfi Sat 15-Sep-12 09:27:07

I've just come across this one The Seamstress by Maria Duenas. Sounds interesting. Apparently it's been a bestseller in Spain for a couple of years, and is now a Richard & Judy bookclub choice for this Autumn.

thepeanutsparent Sat 15-Sep-12 19:42:01

The tv adaptation of Camomile lawn was a bit funny IIRC I think it didn't get the characterisation right. It's worth reading even if you've seen it.
The Pursuit of Love is set in England and France.
Happy reading!

I've just read 'The Far Country' - it was okay but not a patch on 'Alice' and v slow in places. Quite sweet as a love story though.

reshetima Sat 15-Sep-12 20:10:05

How about Andrea Levy's 'Small Island' about Caribbean migration to London - and an nice counterpoint to another I just finished reading: Martin Fletcher's 'The List', about Jewish migration to London. Both eye-openers if you're interested in social history, but also excellent, heart-warming stories.

33goingon64 Sat 15-Sep-12 20:26:35

My favourite period for fiction!!

If you are interested in reading about the German experience (which I think is just as fascinating):
The book Thief
The blind side of the heart
A woman in Berlin
The boy in the striped pyjamas

I especially recommend a woman in Berlin, everyone should read this book, to understand what life was like for normal Germans who were left in Berlin in 1945 when the Russians arrived. They weren't all Nazi supporters and just wanted to survive and get back to normality. Especially from a woman's point of view, the things they did to survive, but you don't hear about it as it's not seen as heroic. Men should read it too, to see how life is perceived and lived by the other half of the population. Gripping.

SorrelForbes Sat 15-Sep-12 20:46:06

I love Neville Shute. I'd recommend:

A Town Like Alice
Requiem For A Wren

tethersend Sun 16-Sep-12 15:14:11

33goingon64, A woman in Berlin sounds exactly like what I'm after, thanks. Have read The Book Thief and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

Have you read Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada? Amazing account of life in Germany during the war...

OrangeKat Sun 16-Sep-12 15:16:47

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. One of my favourite books, but be prepared to cry.

joanofarchitrave Sun 16-Sep-12 15:21:55

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. A queasily uncomfortable book. Sarah Waters put it into words explaining why it was the basis for her book The Little Stranger - it's a book about middle class English people struggling to cope with post-war changes and viscerally uncomfortable with the implications of their 'social inferiors' having access to more in life. But as always, with Josephine Tey, it's addictively readable and gripping.

The Happy Prisoner, also by Monica Dickens. I much prefer it to Mariana. Also about the post-war period with a dash of the same uneasy flavour. Very much of its time (e.g. the only vegetarian character is weird, evil etc) but has a lovely atmosphere and story. Creates a world that it's hard to leave.

the Pursuit of Love is almost all about the 30s, surely? Only the last chapter gets into the 40s I think? Could try The Blessing but although I used to love it I now find it fairly unreadable.

Selky Sun 16-Sep-12 15:22:04

John Lawton - his books are set immediately before, during and after the war

Sam Bourne - Pantheon

Elizabeth Wilson - War Damage

Laura Wilson - several books

elkiedee Mon 17-Sep-12 12:19:29

Mariana must be set in the 20s and 30s, only the end is at the start of WWII.

I really recommend Laura Wilson's books
The Lover
Stratton's War
An Empty Death

The first is a standalone, the others are #1 and #2 in a series that now contains 4 books.

The Balkan Trilogy and the Levant Trilogy are set in Eastern Europe in the early years of WWII and then in Egypt.

The Other Way Round is the second part of Judith Kerr's trilogy about Anna (following on from When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit) and is an autobiography presented as a novel, about a German Jewish refugee family in London during the years of WWII. Although the trilogy are published as children's books, only the first really is (and is stil very worth reading for adults).

DuchessofMalfi Mon 17-Sep-12 13:13:28

Just remembered this one The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg. It's a biography. She was English, married to a German lawyer and lived through the war in Germany with her children. I think it was turned into a drama on tv in the 90s. Her husband was arrested and imprisoned for alleged involvement in a plot to kill Hitler.

TodaysAGoodDay Mon 17-Sep-12 13:17:06

There's a trilogy, not sure who by, I'll Bring You Buttercups, Daisy Chain Summer and one more.

samonly Mon 17-Sep-12 13:33:39

Alone in Berlin - just amazing. Not set in England. Also, Behind the Scenes at the Museum sort of counts, right?

Mintyy Mon 17-Sep-12 13:36:53

A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine

The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley

are two that I have particularly enjoyed.

mimbleandlittlemy Mon 17-Sep-12 14:56:59

Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy
A great chunk of William Boyd's amazing Any Human Heart but it's worth reading on any level and not just for the 40s bits
Island Madness by Tim Binding set on Gurnsey during the war and infinitely better than the Potato titled book
Enigma - Robert Harris (much better than the film)

BreconBeBuggered Wed 19-Sep-12 10:46:24

A fair number of Monica Dickens' novels were written in the 40s. I'd go with The Fancy as a personal favourite. Fascinating to read attitudes to women's work from the perspective of the time.

SorrelForbes Wed 19-Sep-12 11:01:24

Todaysagoodday. Those books are by Elizabeth Elgin who also wrote All The Sweet Promises (a v fluffy but fun book about a group of Wrens in WWII)

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