Love Charm of Bombs by Lara Feigel

76%

7 Critic Reviews

A writerly work that entices readers to seek out the titles in question.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

'The nightly routine of sirens, barrage, the probing raider, the unmistakable engine ... the bomb-bursts moving nearer and then moving away, hold one like a love-charm' --Graham Greene

When the first bombs fell on London in August 1940, the city was transformed overnight into a strange kind of battlefield. For most Londoners, the sirens, guns, planes, and bombs brought sleepless nights, fear and loss. But for a group of writers, the war became an incomparably vivid source of inspiration, the blazing streets scenes of exhilaration in which fear could transmute into love. In this powerful chronicle of literary life under the Blitz, Lara Feigel vividly conjures the lives of five prominent writers: Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay, Hilde Spiel and the novelist Henry Green. Starting with a sparklingly detailed recreation of a single night of September 1940, the narrative traces the tempestuous experiences of these five figures through five years in London and Ireland, followed by postwar Vienna and Berlin.

Volunteering to drive ambulances, patrol the streets and fight fires, the protagonists all exhibited a unified spirit of a nation under siege, but as individuals their emotions were more volatile. As the sky whistled and the ground shook, nerves were tested, loyalties examined and torrid affairs undertaken. Literary historian and journalist Feigel brilliantly and beautifully interweaves the letters, diaries, journalism and fiction of her writers with official records to chart the history of a burning world, experienced through the eyes of extraordinary individuals.
 

About Lara Feigel

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Lara Feigel is Lecturer in English and the Medical Humanities at King's College, London, where her research is centered on the 1930s and the Second World War. She is the author of Literature, Cinema, and Politics, 1930-1945, and the editor (with Alexandra Harris) of Modernism on Sea: Art and Culture at the British Seaside and (with John Sutherland) of the New Selected Journals of Stephen Spender. She also writes for the Guardian, Prospect, and History Today. She lives in London.
 
Published July 9, 2013 by Bloomsbury Press. 529 pages
Genres: History, War, Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Love Charm of Bombs
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Miranda Seymour on Jul 26 2013

Over all...this is an enterprising, lively and original work, full of striking cameos and fresh insights.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Mar 11 2014

...what we are dealing with is basically the Higher Gossip, in which diligent fossicking around the private lives of writers is justified in consideration of the insight it gives into their work. (It is, alas.) But why the book follows these writers around for so long after the war is a little mystifying.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Robert McCrum on Jan 20 2013

Lara Feigel, a young critic, has transformed this insight into an absorbing and well-researched group biography of five prominent writers who responded imaginatively to the nightly routine of sirens and barrage: Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tessa Hadley on Jan 18 2013

The result is deeply interesting, because Feigel is a good storyteller and responsive to the nuances of expression in the period. She quotes extensively from her writers' fiction and letters and diaries...

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WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Allan Massie on Jul 12 2013

...Ms. Feigel's intelligent and lucidly written book is continuously interesting and illuminating, in places even brilliant in the way she catches the mood of a time when everything seemed in flux...

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Kirkus

Good
on Jun 25 2013

A writerly work that entices readers to seek out the titles in question.

Read Full Review of Love Charm of Bombs | See more reviews from Kirkus

The Economist

Good
on Jul 13 2013

“The Love-charm of Bombs” excels in demonstrating that these years of bleakness and loss were also, for a fortunate few, a time of extraordinary excitement and literary inspiration.

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Reader Rating for Love Charm of Bombs
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