A couple of days ago I stole a book SS had kindly gifted to a mutual friend. Why oh why did I not know of the existence of Nina Bawden before this? I really enjoyed reading Carrie’s War. After a long time, got hooked on a book before I finished the first page.
The story starts with Carrie returning to the small Welsh mining town where she and her brother spent close to a year during the war. Carrie is now a grown woman with children of her own, struggling to reconcile herself to her new widowed status. On a journey, they veer off into the dying mining town, much to the consternation of the children because Carrie wants to see if some of the magic of that year is still left. Disappointed when she sees the ruin of what used to be Druid's Bottom, she tells her children of the events of the year and the ‘dreadful’ thing she did which destroyed it all. The tone and the point of view reminded me a lot of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, although the world that Carrie and her brother inhabit in wartime Britain is a lot more idyllic. Everything is told from a child’s point of view. Without knowing the details of what is wrong, children do know that something is. They can describe some of the events but are not quite able to put a name to it. Both these books do a great job of just describing the event (or the part of it observed by a child) and to an adult reading it, the unstated message is that much more powerful. Carrie’s War , like a good children’s book, even has a happy ending, which satisfied me immensely. Full thumbs up!
P.S. What made it even better – in parallel, I was reading Incendiary, a book I chose based on how similar the cover design was to Mark Haddon’s brilliant The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Just goes to show, never judge a book by its cover.