2014 Recommended books

After the Bombing by Clare Morrall

After the Bombing

Five words from the blurb: WWII, Exeter, girls, school, destroyed

Clare Morrall is a fantastic author. I’ve enjoyed all of her books – especially Astonishing Splashes of Colour, a book packed with wonderfully dysfunctional families. She has a talent for constructing realistic, flawed characters that you can’t help forming a deep attachment to. After the Bombing is equally rich in character development and I loved it, despite the fact it tells a story I’ve heard many times before.

After the Bombing is set in Exeter during the extensive bombing raids of WWII. It tells the story of Alma, a fifteen-year-old girl who is forced to evacuate her boarding school when it is damaged during an air raid.

The plot is very simple, but this didn’t matter as the characters were so strong. I felt as though I knew Alma and her friends so well I could predict their thoughts and actions. Some sections of the book showed what life was like for Alma in the 1960s and in many ways these were the most interesting. They showed how the war continued to affect the adults decades later and how quickly the past was forgotten by the younger generation who hadn’t lived through the trauma of war.

The book was very well researched, with beautiful details of everything from the food they ate to the music they listened to. I’m not familiar with Exeter, but I’m sure that those who know the city will be interested in the local history and the descriptions of how landmarks were changed by the war.

At the top of the bank, it’s possible to see the rose garden and the statue of the Goldwyn’s girl that used to stand outside Merrivale. An iconic photograph of this statue was published in the Western Morning News after the bombing. The young girl stood triumphantly in the midst of chaos, miraculously untouched, a symbol of Exeter’s ability to survive and rise again.

After the Bombing was packed with atmosphere and is one of the most vivid books about ordinary people living through the war that I’ve read. Much of the book reminded me of The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, but I think After the Bombing is the better of the two as its simpler structure left the characters to shine.

Overall, this is a wonderful piece of story-telling and is proof that Clare Morrall is capable of turning the simplest of stories into an emotional delight. Highly recommended.


3 replies on “After the Bombing by Clare Morrall”

I’ve sure it’s revealing that the phrase “wonderfully dysfunctional” immediately caught my attention. This sounds unmissable: thanks for adding it to my TBR (I’ve bought copies of two earlier books, but not this one…yet).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *