Library Loot

It’s so far so good with the library resolutions. I have my notebook and I’ve been weighing up books rather than taking them out automatically. If I don’t have time to read them soon, if they aren’t calling me more loudly than the books on my shelves then they stay where they are.

I’ve been to the library three times this week. Twice I came away empty-handed, but on the third visit two books I had reserved last year turned up, and I spotted something special on the shelves.

So here’s the trio that did make it home:

Demobbed: Coming Home After World War Two by Alan Allport

“Snapshots of gaiety and celebration – the street parties, the victory speeches – are how some people today think of Britain in 1945. But the years following the end of World War II were far from a ‘golden age’ of pride and self-confidence. The country was troubled though triumphant, subject to continued rationing and political change. Wracked by social disorder, austerity and disillusion, Britain was exhausted – and it was the return of those men who had fought for their country who seemed to be a root cause of the trouble. ‘Demobbed’ is the real story of what happened when millions of ex-servicemen returned home. Most had been absent for years, and the joy of arrival was often clouded with ambivalence, regrets and fears. Returning soldiers faced both practical and psychological problems, from reasserting their place in the family home to rejoining a much-altered labour force. Civilians worried that their homecoming heroes had been barbarised by their experiences and would bring crime and violence back from the battlefield. ‘Problem veterans’ preoccupied the entire country. Alan Allport draws on their personal letters and diaries, on newspapers, reports, novels and films to illuminate the darker side of the homecoming experience for ex-servicemen, their families and society at large – a gripping story that’s in danger of being lost to national memory.”

I’ve heard great things about this book. I’d hoped it would be a fitting last book for my War Through The Generations Challenge, but sadly it arrived too late. But now I’m thinking it will make an interesting pairing with Marghanita Laski’s “To Bed With Grand Music” – a novel exploring similar themes

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson

“In the deep winter snows of a Swedish hamlet, a strange young woman fakes a break-in at the house of an elderly artist in order to persuade her that she needs companionship. But what does she hope to gain by doing this? And who ultimately is deceiving whom? In this portrayal of two women grappling with truth and lies, nothing can be taken for granted. By the time the snow thaws, both their lives will have changed irrevocably.”

There is something about Tove Jansson’s writing – I just couldn’t have left this behind.

Talking About Detective Fiction by P D James

“To judge by the worldwide success of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, it is not only the Anglo-Saxons who have an appetite for mystery and mayhem. Talking about the craft of detective writing and sharing her personal thoughts and observations on one of the most popular and enduring forms of literature, P.D. James examines the challenges, achievements and potential of a genre which has fascinated her for nearly fifty years as a novelist. From the tenant of 221b Baker Street to the Village Priest from Cubhole in Essex, from the Golden Age of detective writing between the wars to the achievements of the present and a glimpse at the future, P.D. James explores the metamorphosis of a genre which has gripped and entertained the popular imagination like no other type of novel.”

I heard great things about this one too, and one chapter in I can see why. P D James clearly both knows and loves her subject. And did you know that Jane Austen helped to lay the foundations of the country house mystery?!

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Which book should I go for next? And which are you curious to know more about?

And what did you find in the library this week?

See more Library Loot here.

20 responses

  1. Haven’t heard of any of those books but they do sound interesting, especially Demobbed. So I’m putting my vote in for that first!

  2. I’ve been wanting to read Demobbed since I read Elaine’s review on Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover. I’m looking forward to your review!

  3. True Deciever was really rather good – I do like Tove Jansson. I won a copy of Demobbed on Dove Grey’s blog but have yet to have a chance to have a good look at it.

    • I’m glad you liked it – I hadn’t heard much about it but I knew when it appeared on the returns trolley that I couldn’t leave it behind.

  4. I read P.D. James’s Time to Be in Earnest (2001) a few years back and really enjoyed it as well. It had a good chunk of material about the history of the detective novel alongside the memoir bits: that portion lengthened my TBR list by a fair bit though. Having found the earlier one so rewarding, this new book sounds extraordinarily tempting : thanks for mentioning it here!

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