Reminds me of the debt my generation owe
This is a wonderful book set in the home front in the second world war. Though I’ve read lots of first world war novels, and lots about the atrocities of the Holocaust, I’ve read very few books about what it meant to be in the forces at home, and perhaps have not thought too much about what it meant to be part of a generation who went to war, and who felt their sacrifices HAD to be done, because the alternative was too ghastly to contemplate (clearly a very different experience from the First World War)
Greig focusses on the story of a young fighter pilot and a radar operator, during the Battle of Britain, and they and their immediate friends symbolise the personal stories of a generation. This is a beautifully written book, extremely sad, but without any mawkishness. The ending is absolutely obvious right from the start of the book, but this is not a problem – it is the journey to get to that inevitable end that is the heart, not what that ending will be.
This was the first book i ever came across, by lucky chance, from the Scottish poet and novelist Andrew Greig. He is a profoundly excellent writer, managing the craft of narrative, depth and authentic characters, coupled with that precision of language which the discipline of poetry brings.
Greig manages that subtle and wonderful marriage of creating characters who are so particular and individual that they move beyond the individual and particular to reveal profound, and transcendent truths