A London War Note

 
I can keep it from you no longer!  The book is London War Notes 1939-1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes.  Congratulations to anybody who correctly guessed that (I’m typing this in advance, so for all I know you all guessed it.)  I’ll give you a proper review when I’ve finished the book (and very reluctantly handed it back to the library, because secondhand copies are prohibitively expensive) but here’s an excerpt to give you a taste of Mollie Panter-Downes’ style:

Coming out into the blackout after these evenings is like falling into an inky well; the only lights are the changing green and red crosses of the masked traffic signals and the tiny flashing torches of pedestrians feeling their way like Braille readers around the murky puzzle of Piccadilly Circus.  A hawker with a tray of torches does a roaring trade there these dark nights.  So great has been the demand for batteries that spares are now unobtainable, and exasperated Londoners whose torches fail find that they either have to buy a complete new one or risk breaking a leg when they sally out of doors.  Everyone echoes Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanack; find out moonshine, find out moonshine.”  It is felt that moonlit nights may be an invitation to bombers, but at least they’re more friendly.
More soon…

18 thoughts on “A London War Note

  • February 12, 2013 at 12:40 am
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    Isn't is cruel how expensive copies are? It is such a wonderful book and it was physically painful for me to return it to the library when I was done. Someone needs to reprint it now!!!

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm
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      So cruel! I know that I'll have to have it on my shelves one day – such an invaluable resource.

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  • February 12, 2013 at 3:41 am
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    I suggested it to Persephone last week. Everyone should bombard them with emails in its favor. I love her tone and how it changes over time.

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm
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      They must have their reasons, since I know Nicola loves Mollie P-D… but what could they be?

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  • February 12, 2013 at 11:55 am
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    I'll bet our library doesn't have it, though they do have Good Evening, Mrs Craven, which is wonderful – if any of you haven't read it yet, please do so immediately!

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm
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      I actually haven't, still! I've read Minnie's Room, which is wonderful, and the exceptionally good One Fine Day, so I know I'll love GE,MC.

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  • February 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm
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    I read and very reluctantly handed back a library copy a couple of years ago. But I found an affordable copy in a charity shop some time later, so there are copies out there, and of course I told Persephone it would make a wonderful companion to the two volumes of short stories.

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm
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      Lucky you! I shall definitely keep a keen eye out for a copy… or just renew it at the library til I die…

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  • February 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm
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    Erika W.
    Many (18) of MP-D's war essays are included in "The New Yorker Book of War Pieces", Schocken Books, which has been reprinted many times in hard cover and paperback. I only paid $2.98 for my paperback copy.

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  • February 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm
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    Just picked up my ILL copy yesterday and no doubt my current read will suffer for it. If this work is reprinted one day I would most definitely buy a copy!

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm
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      Darlene, you'll love this just as much as I am, I feel sure! It's also giving me such an improved grasp of what happened when in the war.

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm
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      I seem to be reading everything very slowly at the moment, but I'll definitely report back when I've finished!

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  • February 14, 2013 at 9:50 am
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    I've been a hopeless blog-reader for some time … but this was perfect serendipity (is there such a thing? Of course there is …). My third novel will be partly set in the second world war so I'm rushing out to buy (borrow, probably, MP-D's book). THANK you for blogging about it, Simon.

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    • February 18, 2013 at 9:49 pm
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      Oo, hello there Angela! Lovely to hear from you. You should definitely beg, borrow, or steal a copy – I keep thinking, as I'm reading it, how essential it is for anyone writing a novel set in WW2. You'll know exactly what happened when, to the smallest detail.

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