I’ve just realised that the ‘buy now’ link to CPI Book Delivery was switched off, so apologies to anyone who tried to click through to purchase copies of Daniel. The link should now be working properly!
In Alex Kershaw’s latest book, ‘Avenue of Spies’ (Random House), he recounts the true WWII story of Paris during the occupation and the lives of Dr Sumner Jackson and his family. Jackson worked at the American Hospital, hid wounded allied airmen there and helped them escape, and worked for the resistance. Drawn from many resources, including a passing reference to materials about the Special Operations Executive I wrote a few years back, it’s a good read. Much of the story about the Jackson’s can also be found in Charles Glass’s excellent book, Americans in Paris. Still, these are stories of great courage and heroism that deserve to be told and retold. Alex Kershaw’s books include The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, and The Liberator.
Incidentally, The American Hospital and a character inspired by Sumner Jackson appear in my book, Dead or Alive (Special Ops Book 4).
Here’s a round-up of my latest reads….
‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel (Penguin edition, translated from the French by Elie’s wife)
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, this book by the Auschwitz survivor is on many reading lists in schools in the US – I’m not sure if that is the case in the UK, but in my view it ought to be right up there with Anne Frank’s diary. Written just after the war (and thereafter edited down to a shorter book) it is a powerful account and serves as exactly that.
‘The Grass is Singing’ by Doris Lessing
Rhodesia in the late 40s, a failing white farmer, colonial rule and attitudes. This was Lessing’s first novel and at one level – the portrayal of colonial attitudes – it still works today, reminding us of what it was like just a couple of generations ago. In other respects it didn’t quite work for me – the drawing of Mary (protagonist) was just too odd, though well observed.
‘The Wayward Bus’ by John Steinbeck
Chap in the bookshop told me that several local book groups were currently reading this. Well, I wonder what they thought? A disparate group of passengers arriving at a remote crossroads and gas station cum diner cum bus stop in California back when, serves as an ensemble for Steinbeck to explore lives, hopes, longings, and crises. Brilliantly observed, I enjoyed the book, although nowhere near as much as ‘Of Mice and Men’. I was left with the feeling that there was more to be told.
Back in the day (maybe it still is?), Of Mice and Men was on many a school curriculum, although not where I studied. Recently, in the mood for a short novel, I spotted Of Mice and Men and read it one afternoon, deciding to read the lengthy ‘introduction’ to the book afterwards. It was a terrific read, in some ways so simply written, yet so evocative of the setting and time. And that is a great skill. The ‘introduction’ in my edition charted Steinbeck’s life and writing career, his driving forces/ideas/themes in his work and the settings chosen. Useful if you want such an analysis, but I’m glad I read the book first. The edition I read was published by Penguin’s modern classics.