New Nostalgia

This will likely be another short post, about books that feel like they should be rereads, but aren’t.

51. Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

As a child I read Goodnight Mr Tom and Back Home multiple times (I had a lot of kids’ WWII novels and biographies, and that war and its aftermath are a regular period for Magorian to write about). (I have read one or two of her other books as well, but don’t know them so well.) I liked both novels a lot, for the realism of the characters, and the interest and depth they bring to sometimes horrendous situations. (Although there’s a lot of good-heartedness in there as well, and they are perfectly suitable for the intended age-groups, in my opinion.)

This book is Magorian’s first in some years, and takes us to 1950, and a group of adolescents still dealing with rationing, National Service, and the family disruption caused by men having been lost in the war. At the same time there is an atmosphere of looking forward to new possibilities (Henry and his friends are fascinated by the cinema and what it shows them of the world) and new attitudes and opportunities (Henry’s stepfather has gone back to school, and hopes to be able to do 3rd level training or studies; and Henry and his classmates, male and female, are all being taught both to cook a meal and to put up a shelf). There are still many types of prejudice to be challenged and overcome, and a need to re-evaluate the past as well as the future, but this is a historical novel which very much looks forward.

52. The Truth About the Irish by Terry Eagleton

This was a (much appreciated) wedding present, to remind me of what I’ve left, and my DH of where I’ve come from! (It does rather help to have enough education in the country and its history to tell fact from fiction, but there are enough signposts that a savvy reader shouldn’t have much trouble.) It’s very amusing, in the good-natured self-deprecating humour that only a professed Irishman (no matter where he’s born) (or woman) could get away with.

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