The Love-charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War

The Love-charm of Bombs is Laura Feigel's expansive, immersive look at the lives of five writers--Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macaulay, Henry Green and Hilde Spiel--in World War II-era London. Feigel weaves in generous quotes from her subjects' diaries and letters, amplifying them with her own astute and gracefully written observations. She captures the sexy madness of the time, when bombs fell like locusts and memories could become rubble in an instant. She also offers many examples of how these writers came wonderfully alive during the Blitz--their lives charged with meaning, emotion and renewed creative vigor.

Feigel demonstrates her own considerable skills by zooming in on one particular bomb-drenched night in September 1940 to observe her subjects and their actions, then pulling back to follow their ebbs and flows through the remainder of the war and beyond. Continuing beyond the war gives The Love-charm of Bombs most of its pathos; Feigel makes a compelling case that even though the writers would achieve great things in later years, they would still look back on this murderous time with great longing. All their best future work, she argues, would deal with the war either specifically or tangentially.

The Love-charm of Bombs is a wonderful evocation of a vanished yet still completely modern time--a great work of cultural depth and literary analysis, readable and thought-provoking to the last page. --Donald Powell, freelance writer

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