After the Bombing
An exciting departure from the acclaimed literary novelist – Morrall’s ambitious new novel is set in the 1940s and ‘60s in south-west England. In May 1942, Exeter and other British cities were bombed, in retaliation for the bombing of German ports. These cities had been picked for their historic significance – from a Baedeker tourist guide. Among the many buildings which took direct hits in Exeter were a girls’ school and the city’s hospital.
This exceptional novel sees 15-year-old Alma Braithwaite survive in the school’s air raid shelter, whilst her parents, both doctors and at work in the hospital, tragically die. Twenty years later Alma is still at the girls’school as the head of music, living in the house she and her brother grew up in. She learns that a new pupil is the daughter of a man she knew in the war – he was warden of the residency she lived in after the school was destroyed – and memories of that time come flooding back.
Alma recalls her close friendship with brilliant pianist Jane Curly and the boys they were billeted with, who introduced them to the latest jazz tunes, and partnered them for exuberant dances like the Lindy Hop. Alma’s life is about to be shaken again as she faces an entirely different sort of enemy attack – but who will be her allies this time?
Oscillating between World War II and the early Sixties, Morrall sets about evoking the war's enduring impact on those who were left behind on the home front, too young to take part yet irrevocably shaped by it nonetheless . . . an engaging story throughout. (Hephzibah Anderson Daily Mail)A potent evocation of the war on the Home Front and its emotional impact on the young people who survived it . . . as much a tale about identity and survival as it is about the impact of national trauma on individuals . . . Her dedication to authenticity has paid off. The novel resonates with the age (Danuta Kean Independent on Sunday)Clare Morrall is a writer with a gift for unflamboyant but effective storytelling . . . her narrative has a cumulative power (Nick Rennison The Sunday Times)
'I was enchanted from the very first page. The author's descriptions ofwar-torn Exeter are so vivid, I felt I was there.' Good Housekeeping