Thursday, 15 March 2007

Loud whooping in the office . . .

from BNO1 as there is another review of Bless 'em All, this time from Johnathan Keates in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS to you):

'Allen Saddler’s Bless ’Em All is subtitled A Blitz novel. Its emphasis is on the eternally absorbing paradox, in Second World War London, of ordinary lives pursuing their respective courses against a background of communal loss and annihilation. Booksellers Bernard and Maurice Green; their invoice clerk Rosa Tcherny, “a bit of all right”; perky Jimmy
the office boy, with his taste for pork-dripping and the Gem magazine; Bunty, on the game up West; and Gloria, the resting actress whose dramatic quietus owes nothing to the Luftwaffe: none of them is conspicuous for courage or glamour. What matters to them all is being “free to act natural”, as Jimmy puts it, even if, like the hotel porter Bert Penrose, they should end up minus a spouse and a leg.

Allen Saddler carefully avoids any hint of “London can take it” Cockney-sparrer sentimentality. The baldness of his characters’ conversational exchanges is as convincing as the unemotional narrative, pared down to the sinew of an existence suddenly robbed of anything like certainty or expectation: “Edie kept coming, day after day, but she didn’t bring any joy”. Even while it saves them, the mood of resignation which forms an essential ingredient of such lives has its own dangerous powers of

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