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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is described by its author, Rachel Joyce as a 'companion' to her earlier book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Published in 2014, it gives Queenie's side of the story. In the earlier book, Harold had set out to walk 627 miles to see Queenie who was dying, in a hospice in Berwick- upon Tweed. On the way, he gathered a cast of characters who walked with him.He came to terms with the death of his son, came to an understanding with his wife and gave purpose to those he met on the way. All Queenie had to do was to wait for him as he came to say goodbye.

 In this companion piece, we stay with Queenie in the hospice but she takes us on a journey through her past. We learn about her feelings for Harold. We also learn of other secrets which she has kept, concerning Harold's son, David.

Although the book is principally about the end of life and the process of dying, this book is far from depressing or downbeat. It is an uplifting read, full of humour which is delivered with affection for the inhabitants of the hospice. Instead of sitting waiting to die, everyone becomes involved in waiting for Harold. One by one, they lose their lives which is  signalled by the arrival of the funeral company's hearse. 

I found the story quite engrossing. Queenie's struggle to write the story with Harold's journey in mind, supported by Sister Mary Inconnue, is at times agonising. Told in matter of fact, uncomplicated language, in contrast to the appalling nature of her illness, the starkness of Queenie's fate is there for all to see. This is a book full of the tiny, everyday details of human behaviour. It rings true.

In short: a inspirational read which deals with profound issues with humour and sensitivity.


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