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

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


KeithLeMonde Wed 10-Oct-12 21:12:19

Under An English Heaven by Robert Radcliffe
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

tutu100 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:31:04

I like Maureen lee books which are mostly set during the war in Liverpool. Also Helen Forrester's Twopence to cross the Mersey, Liverpool Miss, By the waters of Liverpool and Lime Street at 2 are her story of her early years growing up in Liverpool. They go from the 1930's and the depression till the end of World War 2.

HerBigChance Wed 10-Oct-12 20:25:51

On the recommendation of this thread, I am reading Monica Dickens's 'Mariana'. Thoroughly enjoyable, she has a lovely turn of phrase as a writer.

Gigondas Wed 03-Oct-12 19:44:18

The Balkan and levant trilogy's by Olivia manning- fascinating semi auto biographical account of someone who lived in Romania, Greece and then Egypt in early years of the war.

Another vote for christabel bielenberg.

HerBigChance Wed 03-Oct-12 19:40:19

84 Charing Cross Road is lovely, and sad.

drjohnsonscat Mon 01-Oct-12 23:15:21

84 Charing Cross Road. Lovely.

YY to Diary of a Provincial Lady, London Belongs to Me and a Town Like Alice.

Feel a need to go and watch old episodes of Tenko now!

iseenodust Fri 28-Sep-12 20:37:03

YY to Shute & Delderfield

Not spotted above - Daphne Du Maurier "Rule Britannia"

elkiedee Fri 28-Sep-12 18:21:09

Most of To Serve Them All My Days is set a bit earlier, as the story starts just after WWI.

NurseRatched Thu 27-Sep-12 22:29:41

RF Delderfield: To Serve Them All My Days?

HerBigChance Thu 27-Sep-12 13:49:54

I am noting all these down in a big list; thank you for the recommendations.

I am really pleased to see RF Delderfield mentioned. I'm sure his books were dramatised when I was a child. He seems to be desperately out of fashion now, which is a shame. He can tell a story and writes proper fat fiction.

cairnterrier Wed 26-Sep-12 19:23:02

The Cruel Sea by Nicolas Monsarrat. Out of print now but very very easy to pick up at a second hand book fair.

elkiedee Wed 26-Sep-12 19:20:09

It's not necessarily jolly but Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd, available from Persephone, is very funny. Miss Ranskill was washed away on a desert island and has made it home after several years to England during WWII and everything is very strange and no one understands why she doesn't know about rationing and other rules.

notnowImreading Wed 26-Sep-12 19:07:02

Westwood by Stella Gibbons (quite a slow-burner)
Another vote for the Cazalet books
The Echoing Grove by Rosamund Lehmann (but it will make you want to slit your wrists)
I'm trying to think of any jolly ones but can't really.

elkiedee Wed 26-Sep-12 19:00:11

Muriel Spark, The Girls of Slender Means, is set in the mid 40s.

NurseRatched Tue 25-Sep-12 22:58:33

This one The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst ?

Shoshe Tue 25-Sep-12 19:38:38

The White Pearl set in 1947 in Malaya, by Kate Furnivall.

tripfiction Tue 25-Sep-12 19:31:14

Manhattabn 45 by Jan Morris?

Japple Tue 25-Sep-12 15:33:37

I think Peter Straub's Book-" The Hellfire Club" is set in the 40's.It is about the
History of some poets,some of which became famous and some which didn't.It
is a frightening,spooky and sometimes murderous Tale.We love it.Peter Straub
is a good friend of Stephen Kings, and the two friends co-wrote "The Talisman"
and "Black House".Altogether an exciting tale.Jill.

somebloke123 Tue 25-Sep-12 14:48:48

Three volumes (The Valley of Bones, The Soldier's Art, and The Military Philosophers) from Anthony Powell's 12-novel sequence "Dance to the Music of Time" are set in the 40s and are excellent.

One issue though is that by the time the War starts many of the characters have been developed over the previous 6 volumes, so you'd probably want to read the whole thing.

Lilymaid Wed 19-Sep-12 20:07:23

I don't think anyone has yet mentioned: Love Lessons by Joan Wyndham, demonstrating that sex didn't start in 1963 (also Love is Blue which covers her "war service" in the Wrens.
As said before, Cazalet Chronicles are fabulous and cover 1938-45. Also Fortunes of War, Sword of Honour Suite Francaise. All very well written and very readable.

Selky Wed 19-Sep-12 19:58:46

Or Barbara Pym, Excellent Women, Some Tame Gazelle, Less than Angels, etc. All fab.

SuePurblybilt Wed 19-Sep-12 11:49:33

Diary of a Provincial Lady, too. Forgot about them, there's a specific wartime one but they're all of the period-ish. Well, more 1930s actually as the author died in the 40s but still, hilarious and appealing.
EM Delafield.

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)

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.

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)

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