Wednesday, April 4, 2012

London Calling

Oddest book this week – Meg Rosloff’s How I Live Now. A teen girl is sent from New York to her relatives in England just as a world war breaks out. The family adults are travelling and can’t get back into England. Their large country house is requisitioned for the military and the kids are split to different farms to foster. It’s a perfectly normal WWII novel, except it’s based in present day. So, in the middle of discussing rations and victory gardens and rubber shortages, they’ll mention emails or cell phones. Very strange and I don’t know why she bothered.

I’m not going to spoil this one for you, but the synopsis on Goodreads

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

doesn’t even come close to the point of the book. I don’t know if you’ll enjoy it or not – I’m not sure whether I did. The writing was descriptive and masterful, but the premise was strange in the way of F. Scott Fitzgerald books, where damaged men love and are loved by damaged women.

I did love the almost throwaway premise that the invaders had taken over London in a surprise coup. They thought it would be a suicide mission and  are so surprised to have succeeded that they don’t really have any plans for what to do with their victory. War memoirists often write of boredom in the middle of terror – that you can’t sustain that high level of fear for very long. I remember a lecturer telling one time about adventuring in the rain forest, where every insect can kill you. He talked about how you become blasé about fear, brushing off deadly spiders and tramping past predators, and then, when you come back out of the forest, striding across roads with cars speeding everywhere because you’ve lost the ability to fear death. I guess it’s the ones who can’t calm the fear who break in war – You can’t sustain the tension, but you can’t release it, either, so you snap.

Speaking of snapping, I’m reading Stephen King’s The Talisman right now. It is so long that we’ll see if I can hold this sustained level of tension through the whole thing or if the next review will be Hop on Pop.


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