Rainy or snowy Sunday afternoons, as a child, meant watching movies with my Mom. Our favourites always fell into two categories; the lavish MGM movie musicals and the sweet and sad stories of couples during the Second World War. As I grow older,the spectacle of Carmen Miranda dancing with fruit on her head may have lost much of it’s appeal, but the stories of men and women torn apart by a world at war, whether as a movie or a novel still captures my imagination.
Sebastian Faulks’ “Charlotte Gray”, tells the story of a Scottish nurse, trained in France, who volunteers to be dropped behind the lines of Vichy France as a spy, in order to try to save the RAF pilot she loves. The story follows Charlotte as she changes from an naive young woman to someone who tests her strengths and discovers herself, as she copes with the horrors of war, betrayal and sacrifice.
“The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje, tells the story of four lost souls who come together in an abandoned monastery in the hills of Italy during the final days of the war. Hana, a young Canadian nurse, Caravaggio, a former thief, Kip,a young Sikh bomb specialist and a dying burn victim known as the English Patient,form this sad company. Much of the novel is told through the memories of the characters and these tales change both the storytellers and their audience.
Elizabeth Berg’s” Dream When You’re Feeling Blue” takes us to Chicago at the time of World War II in this story about three sisters, their eccentric Irish family, and the men they love.
Kitty , Louise and Tish Heaney see the War from the homefront; from rationing, to war drives, from the USO, to the letters of loved ones on the battlefield. Stresses, strains and choices made, change each sister; from an unexpected pregnancy, a chance at independence working in a bomb factory and the illusions and realities of love, the Heaney girls will never be the same.