Emerging out of the 1940-1941 London Blitz, the drama of these two short works, a novel and a memoir, comes from the courage and endurance of ordinary people met in the factories, streets and lodging houses of a city under bombardment. Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift follows a largely working-class cast of characters for five night shifts in a factory that produces camera parts for war planes. It Was Different At The Time is Holden’s account of wartime life from April 1938 to August 1941, drawn from her own diary. This was intended to be a joint project written with her friend George Orwell (he was in the end too busy to contribute), and includes disguised appearances of Orwell and other notable literary figures of the period. The experiences recorded in It Was Different At The Time overlap in period and subject with Night Shift, setting up a vibrant dialogue between the two texts.
Inez Holden (1903-1974) was a British writer and literary figure whose social and professional connections embraced most of London’s literary and artistic life. She modelled for Augustus John, worked alongside Evelyn Waugh, and had close relationships with George Orwell, Stevie Smith, H G Wells, Cyril Connolly, and Anthony Powell. The introduction and notes are by Kristin Bluemel, exploring how these short prose texts work as multiple stories: of Inez Holden herself, the history of the Blitz, of middlebrow women’s writing, of Second World War fiction, and of the world of work.
Thank you Handheld Press for sending me a review copy, in exchange I’m providing you all with an honest review.
This book was a nice change of pace to my other recent reads. I’m a huge history buff and I had done a lot of WWI and Russian Revolution reading for my nonfiction so to have a change of pace with WWII was great. Not to mention this is a 2 for 1 really, we get Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift along with her wartime memoir, It Was Different At The Time.
Both had their own slice of history to bring to the table, they are both pieces though that are exploring the sort of people that exist in this time period. This isn’t a look at WWII as an event as much as a time period in someone’s life. Holden has a talent for describing people as an outsider that’s a joy to read and the details she provides are unlike other accounts I’ve read. In her novella, she describes the work week, and this includes the machinery that many of us now forget were used to help so much in the war and that was manned quite a bit by women at that point in time. She also recalls things as ‘mundane’ as the buses, and bicycles people used to get around during air raids, and this goes for her memoirs as well.
Oh to be a fly on the wall for Holden’s life, she knew an amazing group of people and thanks to the introduction by Kristin Bluemel we get to know more of what an amazing woman Inez Holden was herself. This is not for reading to get to a plot or experience a satisfying ending, it’s for just plain enjoyment and observation. I can’t say I recall being on the edge of my seat while reading this but I did thoroughly enjoy it for what it was, the small nuances and bits of information were a true delight. I am happy to say that I look forward to reading more about and by Inez Holden.
I would recommend this to any History Buff especially those interested in WWII.
4/5 Cups of Coffee from this caffeine addict! This book will be launched on May 31st at The Second Shelf Bookshop in London!
It’s Sunday, I’m picking my daughter up from her Brownies trip and yesterday we had an unexpected charity shop spree. We went to one but it was just choc-full of amazing books. So.
We did it. That was our adventurous thing to do while the daughter is away, buy books.
Also, I forgot to show these off last week:
The total from last Sunday was £4.49
Finally, the ones from today
We were able to pick up a couple of more classics that matched some we already have. Grabbed some great nonfiction reads, and well, went overboard. But we hadn’t really planned on buying books today and the shop was all the way in Edinburgh so we wouldn’t be back to that part of the city anytime soon. We live in Fife and if we go into Edinburgh it’s usually for shows or the museum.
The Diary of Anne Frank £2.00
The French Revolution, Christopher Hibbert £2.00
The French Revolution £4.00
The Russian Revolution 1917-1932 £2.00
Naming Jack the Ripper £4.00
Bletchley Circle £2.00
The World According to Garp £2.00
The Way of the Flesh £2.00
Usher Hall £2.00
The Happy Prince and Other Stories £1.50
Count Karlstein £1.50
Hocus Pocus (Kurt Vonnegut) £2.00
The Little World of Don Camillo £2.00
The Wife of Bath £2.00
A total of £33.00 for today
Come about October/November I’ll probably have donated at least a 1/3 of everything I’ve been buying lately.
Anyway, that’s it, not much of a post but I’m always excited to share our finds.
Danny Goldberg is completely unassuming and humble in his retrospective look at Kurt Cobain’s career and on their personal friendship. He doesn’t pretend to know Kurt’s relationships with others, just what he sees of them and what he’s heard, he’s so honest about his interaction with Kurt and others on his behalf and it was such an emotional read for me. As a musicology graduate I have been fascinated with Kurt’s musical imprint in a research light as well as being a huge fan and this book gave a lot of depth to the music business side of Kurt which is greatly appreciated. Overall this has been one of the best reads I’ve had so far this year and will be going on my favorites list.
Honestly, I can’t even pretend and say I’m not the tiniest bit biased of a book written about Kurt Cobain but I can say that I am unbiased when it comes to who has written it so you can be at ease knowing I didn’t just rate this five stars because it’s about Kurt Cobain.
Nirvana is just this band that if you love it, it just ist he sort of music that consumes you, there’s a raw power and edge to their music and Kurt’s own voice was always so good at conveying emotion that no matter how old I get, he and the band hold such a cherished place in my heart.
I did get emotional several times through the book this is, after all, a book that is ultimately about a man with mental health issues who ended his life, cutting off his brilliance too soon. We don’t like to talk about mental health or if some do it’s because of the power of social media and we didn’t have that when Kurt died, there were such horrible things said, just one less druggie in the world, things like that, and my god bringing that all back was part of the reason I got so easily emotional.
– Danny manages to not speak of things he doesn’t know as if he knows them, he’ll say what he’d heard or that he didn’t know something rather than trying to fill in gaps just to make the book ‘more interesting.’
– This gave an outsider’s perspective but still someone that knew Kurt on some level
– It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fresh book on Kurt Cobain
– It’s coming out 25 years since Kurt’s death
– Danny’s voice is engaging and he doesn’t drawl or drone on where he could
– It’ll break your heart if you’re a Nirvana fan but it’ll be like Kurt’s back again when you feel the rush of it all reading about him and Nirvana.
Harper Collins was kind enough to approve my request Edelweiss for this book and honestly, I’ll be fine if I never get approved for another book on there again after having the honor to read this. This was given in exchange for my honest review, and that’s what I’ve given you all.