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Choisya
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

I find it interesting to speculate on author-specific language. Descriptions, metaphors, similes intrigue me, because, unless they are cliches, they indicate something of the author's thought process. And sometimes I have no idea what they are supposed to mean. For instance, on page 44: "Mrs. Cripps stood like a striped tent without an occasion, studying the scene before her." What does the simile mean? What does a tent without an occasion look like?
I think this is a reference to either a circus tent or a marquee such as those used for weddings. Mrs Cripps is dressed up, presumably in a striped dress but has nowhere to go, as it were, just like an empty circus tent or marquee.   

 

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Amanda-Louise
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

Censors work for the government.  In London, they would have been concerned about anything being broadcast that might give eavesdropping Germans or sympatizers any concrete info about numbers of ships, troop movements, specific targets that might have been hit, anything that might be useful to the enemy. 


 

All correspondence was censored.  My grandfather was a fighter pilot for the RAF in WWII.  He was either going to be stationed in Africa (?) or Greenland.  He wasn't allowed to tell his family where he was going, and all letters were read.  Anything remotely privileged was blacked out.  Or an entire letter could be confiscated if it was not deemed appropriate. 

 

My grandfather wanted his family to know where he was, so he wrote about his day, whatever and then said he was cold and needed some warm socks and mittens knit for him.  That way my family knew he was in Greenland!

 

 

 

 

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lmpmn
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Thanks to everyone who already has or will post answers to my questions.  The ones I've read so far have been very informative and I've enjoyed the links as well.

Happiness is a warm blanket!
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : Setting the Scene.

 

Thank you, Choisya, for all the links. I knew you would come up with a few superb ones. I checked them all out except the one about the play; just not enough time in the day for it all. When I listened to the sirens on YouTube I got a chill (goose bumps) as I always do when I listen to sirens. On the same page was an old German siren; I listened to it also. Two chills for the day.
If somehone else has trouble clicking on the two Post Offices (did Iris live here......or here? - One is Hyannis Port the other one Cape Cod) just copy and paste the URL and it will come up.
Choisya wrote:

 

Before our 'read', I spent a little time putting together some links about WWII London and of Cape Cod:-

Setting the scene for Frankie: 
 
St Pauls in the Blitz:
 
 
Slideshow of images from the Blitz
 
 
Air raid sirens and images:
 
 
(May be a spoiler.) A play about an Underground shelter using the broadcasts of Ed Murrow
 
 
 
Setting the scene for Iris, Harry and Emma:
 
Map of Cape Cod
 
 
 
Did our other characters live in these Cape Cod 'cottages':-
 
 
Provincetown - did Harry keep watch from the Town Hall here?
 
 
A nice slideshow of Truro, Cape Cod.
 
 
I was surprised to see Westminster Abbey described as 'medieval'.  Although it was founded in medieval times it was rebuilt by Henry III in 1245 and is generally considered one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. 
 

 


 

 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : For SunlitCloud.

 

How wonderful, don't you think, that Barnes and Noble can bring us all full circle with a common ground? Someone once said "today's enemy is tomorrow's ally".

Choisya wrote:

For Sunltcloud who wrote:-

 

I am German and I went to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in October of 2008 with just such an idea in my head. It was hard, at first, to view my own country's occupation history of this beautiful island close-up in bunkers, museums, personal accounts, and discussions. It was, I suppose, a lesson in humility. But it also was a reaffirmation of my belief in the basic necessity of global peace. It brought home the truth of Martha Gellhorn's words, "War happens to people one by one."

 

How strange it is that you and I, of about the same age, who were on the opposite sides during the war, should end up here discussing this book!  I agree with all you wrote earlier, especially about the need for global peace, and I am thankful that my nation and yours (Germany) entered into a post-war union (the EEC) which has preserved peace for us since WWII.  Long may it remain so!  (I also hope that you are feeling better after your recent operation and that this reading will take your mind off any pain or discomfort you might be experiencing. A Hug from Choisya.)


 

 

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Sunltcloud
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : For SunlitCloud.

 

In my memoirs writing workshop I have met other women who were on opposing sides during WWII. One spent years in an Italian prison camp, several American women lost family members; and then there is one, a German woman, who is in the process of writing a book about her childhood experiences under Hitler's regime during the war. She has had several speaking engagements already, to tell American audiences about "the other side." It makes me happy to be part of such a group. I also belong to "Grandmothers for Peace."  http://www.grandmothersforpeace.org/

 

A few years ago I read books written by opposing sides simultaneously: Bomber Pilot (A Memoir of World War II) by Philip Ardery Bomber Pilot  , and Under the Bombs (The German Home Front, 1942-1945) Under the Bombs   by Earl R. Beck. A photograph in the latter book shows me what's at stake. It is a photograph of children playing in the ruins of Berlin. Those ruins could be anywhere. And the children? They belong to all of us. We, as adults, have been given the responsibility to raise them in safety. Iraqi children, Somali children, British children, children in Tajikistan, in Macedonia, in Germany - they all deserve peace.

 

As difficult as it is to defend some wars, the war against Hitler was a necessary war in my eyes. Earl Beck says in "Under the Bombs" "Perhaps this was the last war in which, for Americans, the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, were so clearly underscored. Forty years later, I still believe that I was distinctly on the side of the angels in World War II. But forty years later, I also feel that there were elements of self-satisfaction in my thinking that led me to ignore some aspects of the events in which I took part."

 

It is the element of self-satisfaction that worries me. 


Choisya wrote:

For Sunltcloud who wrote:-

 

I am German and I went to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in October of 2008 with just such an idea in my head. It was hard, at first, to view my own country's occupation history of this beautiful island close-up in bunkers, museums, personal accounts, and discussions. It was, I suppose, a lesson in humility. But it also was a reaffirmation of my belief in the basic necessity of global peace. It brought home the truth of Martha Gellhorn's words, "War happens to people one by one."

 

How strange it is that you and I, of about the same age, who were on the opposite sides during the war, should end up here discussing this book!  I agree with all you wrote earlier, especially about the need for global peace, and I am thankful that my nation and yours (Germany) entered into a post-war union (the EEC) which has preserved peace for us since WWII.  Long may it remain so!  (I also hope that you are feeling better after your recent operation and that this reading will take your mind off any pain or discomfort you might be experiencing. A Hug from Choisya.)


 

 

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MSaff
Posts: 272
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Hello Everyone, 

  I just want to say that I am thoroughly enjoying the story.  Now it's on to the discussion for me.

 

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

  For me the impact of the war caught me rather quickly.  The descriptions being broadcast by Frankie brought me right into the scenes and I could see and smell everything going on as she gave the reports.  I also believe that we ARE listening to the broadcasts along with Emma and Will, and I dare say most people of the time period had been listening to them.  Each of us then must decide when they are impacted by the war, and how they feel about the reports. 

  The scene, which moved me most, was where Frankie is trying to get home following the bombing raids, through the rubble and burning.  She encounters Billy, and together they find their way back to where they lived, only to find their homes completely destroyed and death comes right up to them.  I’m speaking of the death of Billy’s mother and of Frankie’s friend Harriet.  I especially liked the section where Frankie took Harriet’s piece on the war and finished it as well as reported it for her.  I think that Will’s decision to go to London stems from the report that Frankie broadcast following that specific bombing and loss of life. 


How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree?

 

  The experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s depended upon the reporter and their reporting technique and expertise.  Many times we hear news broadcast on the radio in a matter of fact manner, where the reporter gives us just the facts as they are available, with no energy or follow up.  A good reporter brings the story to life right through the radio, and this is where I believe Frankie to be an excellent reporter.  Not only was she a woman reporting the action of a war in the 40s, but also she was good at getting the details and atmosphere into the living rooms all across America.  Frankie’s reporting from the Anti-Aircraft gun emplacement was also very descriptive and pointed. 

  In today’s society and fast paced world, television is everywhere and we can see what is happening at the moment.  This was not available to us at the time of World War II and as far as the Internet, well that is still in its infancy as far as that goes.

 



Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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JaneM
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Groan!  But thanks for the apt metaphor!

 


Fozzie wrote:

JaneM wrote:

I find the following description of Frankie by Harriet very puzzling - "Frankie called to mind prairies and Indians and men on the loose." (p 31)  I'm not sure what that means and would like to hear what others think.


Frankie is not a regular gal living a normal life.  She is blazing new trails (you can groan at the pun) for women reporting on war.  Frankie wants to be where the action is.  She is in unchartered territory, where men fight to the death, trying to stake a claim for themselves, like the cowboys did while settling the West.


 

Jane M.
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PiperMurphy
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)


Rachel-K wrote:

Please feel free to use any or all of these questions as a jumping off point for discussion--and please feel free to post your own! Especially for the "Chapter" threads, please be conscious of spoilers!

 

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

 For me, the war began to feel real when Frankie was with the plane spotters. The spotters were the first defense for everyone else in the city. I thought how incredibly nerve racking it must have been to sit and watch every night for the planes to come. Absolutely chilling.

 

 

How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree?

 

This reminds me of "The Waltons" with the whole family sitting around the radio listening to the war news. The radio brought live news directly to the people. The effect would be similar to watching television news today, but with fewer broadcasters.  They didn't have six news networks competing to bring them 'breaking news'. I think that might be the difference, it wasn't a competition. The news was important.

 

 

What is the town of Franklin like? How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?

 

Franklin seems like a Norman Rockwell town. I think it would be a great place to live. However, the people seem to think that the war is 'there' not 'here' and it won't be here because the President said so. Harry realizes that the post office flag pole is tall enough to be used as a target, but that seems pretty insignificant.


 

"When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."
~Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus~
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literature
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

JaneM wrote:

I find the following description of Frankie by Harriet very puzzling - "Frankie called to mind prairies and Indians and men on the loose." (p 31)  I'm not sure what that means and would like to hear what others think.


I took this to mean, Harriet thought of Frankie as a strong, capable, independent woman who can make her own way in a man's world...maybe like Maria in UTUS?!

 

-- C.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Yes, C, I agree with you when you compare Frankie to Maria in UTUS.  Just like Maria, who always found a way to lead and survive even under the most tragic of circumstances, Frankie doesn't let anything get in her way.  She has a purpose and she is going to fulfill that purpose.

 

Janet, my take on "Frankie called to mind prairies and Indians and men on the loose."   The praires were an unsettling place.  It was man vs Indians, people looking to settling down, people running from raids, people being forced to leave their land and homes being burned.  I look at it as a parallel analogy.  London during the blitz, people being forced to leave their homes, homes burning from the bombings, people leaving the underground shelters and going in all directions to find what's left of their homes or looking for loved ones.   Frankie followed the war on the streets, wanting to get at the heart of it and tell it the way it was.

 

 

 

 

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freelamp
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I so agree with your statements about viewpoints.  I was in Germany and Austria this spring and have also visited the Channel Islands and England.  There are spirits in the air around all the World War sights and a feeling of calm sadness for what occurred.  In reading "The Postmistress" I believe the impact of the war is felt immediately.  Sarah's statement, "And all of you are young these days" seems to bring in the current wars as well.   I think it is harder to see the real villians today.

freelamp
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

I agree about it being harder to see the real villains today. I am reminded that more isn't necessarily better when it comes to information. Just being able to watch 100 channels of television certainly doesn't give me the truth. Political analysis is frequently biased. Blogs add a lot of personal opinion. Surfing the net, looking at various newspapers from different countries opens the eyes, but doesn't always translate into a clearer picture. Travel certainly contributes to understanding other countries, if for no other reason than that it makes the citizens human. Sometimes remembering history helps. If I look at the variety of problems in Africa or the war between India and Pakistan, I am confused, but if I look at old maps, read European history, delve into the psychological damage of colonialism, I understand at least some of it. I worry though, about the effects of modern technology. The time required to seek truth increases, but tweets and texting reduce reality to a kind of shorthand. Are sound bites and 140 character explanations conducive to a peaceful coexistence of peoples?

freelamp wrote:

I so agree with your statements about viewpoints.  I was in Germany and Austria this spring and have also visited the Channel Islands and England.  There are spirits in the air around all the World War sights and a feeling of calm sadness for what occurred.  In reading "The Postmistress" I believe the impact of the war is felt immediately.  Sarah's statement, "And all of you are young these days" seems to bring in the current wars as well.   I think it is harder to see the real villians today.


 

 

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JerseyAngel
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I had a tough time getting into this story at first. I lost track of the characters & didn't connect well with them or the story. By chapter 4, that all changed! I notice alot of people seem to connect to one woman or another but I can't say I do. I think there are parts of each woman that I can relate to but none that, so far, I have totally connected with.

 

My grandfather's were both in the Navy during WWII so this is proving to be an interesting window into the lives they may have lead. The war in this book didn't become real for me until Frankie actually experienced it. Even the scene in the bar, when everyone seemed desperate to drink, have fun & enjoy company before the bombings started made it more real. I think the radio doesn't really make it real for me. I think, unless you are there, people easily become disconnected. They hear the stories, they know it's true, but they don't truly know unless they have lived it.

 

The image of people sitting by their radios, listening, occassionally hoping that the stories they hear won't come across the ocean are very real for what was being experienced in the US at the time,

 

I was a little shocked & disappointed at Will running away in a sense. While it sounds like he is going to do something, to help, in truth he's just a coward. Willing to run into a place that could kill him then face the town & his father's reputation.

 

Stephanie

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Choisya
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : For SunlitCloud.

[ Edited ]

 

"Forty years later, I still believe that I was distinctly on the side of the angels in World War II. But forty years later, I also feel that there were elements of self-satisfaction in my thinking that led me to ignore some aspects of the events in which I took part."
Yes, self satisfaction is a danger. I have cautioned elsewhere about thinking that we were always on the side of the angels. All sides commit atrocities in war, to a greater or a lesser degree, but as the victors write the history books we often do not get to hear about them unless we delve.  The blanket bombing of Dresden by the RAF & USAAF was one such atrocity. 

Sunltcloud wrote:

In my memoirs writing workshop I have met other women who were on opposing sides during WWII. One spent years in an Italian prison camp, several American women lost family members; and then there is one, a German woman, who is in the process of writing a book about her childhood experiences under Hitler's regime during the war. She has had several speaking engagements already, to tell American audiences about "the other side." It makes me happy to be part of such a group. I also belong to "Grandmothers for Peace."  http://www.grandmothersforpeace.org/

 

A few years ago I read books written by opposing sides simultaneously: Bomber Pilot (A Memoir of World War II) by Philip Ardery Bomber Pilot  , and Under the Bombs (The German Home Front, 1942-1945) Under the Bombs   by Earl R. Beck. A photograph in the latter book shows me what's at stake. It is a photograph of children playing in the ruins of Berlin. Those ruins could be anywhere. And the children? They belong to all of us. We, as adults, have been given the responsibility to raise them in safety. Iraqi children, Somali children, British children, children in Tajikistan, in Macedonia, in Germany - they all deserve peace.

 

As difficult as it is to defend some wars, the war against Hitler was a necessary war in my eyes. Earl Beck says in "Under the Bombs" "Perhaps this was the last war in which, for Americans, the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, were so clearly underscored. Forty years later, I still believe that I was distinctly on the side of the angels in World War II. But forty years later, I also feel that there were elements of self-satisfaction in my thinking that led me to ignore some aspects of the events in which I took part."

 

It is the element of self-satisfaction that worries me. 


Choisya wrote:

For Sunltcloud who wrote:-

 

I am German and I went to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in October of 2008 with just such an idea in my head. It was hard, at first, to view my own country's occupation history of this beautiful island close-up in bunkers, museums, personal accounts, and discussions. It was, I suppose, a lesson in humility. But it also was a reaffirmation of my belief in the basic necessity of global peace. It brought home the truth of Martha Gellhorn's words, "War happens to people one by one."

 

How strange it is that you and I, of about the same age, who were on the opposite sides during the war, should end up here discussing this book!  I agree with all you wrote earlier, especially about the need for global peace, and I am thankful that my nation and yours (Germany) entered into a post-war union (the EEC) which has preserved peace for us since WWII.  Long may it remain so!  (I also hope that you are feeling better after your recent operation and that this reading will take your mind off any pain or discomfort you might be experiencing. A Hug from Choisya.)


 

 


 

 

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KCSullivan
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

Well clearly the war has the greatest impact on Frankie. She is the thick of it when she tackles her first assignment to cover the Antiaircraft Gunnery placement. The description of the noise, fear and futility are riveting. As is Frankie’s commentary “…it’s all up to God and some men. Over here, you close your eyes, do your job, and fling yourself towards it – whatever it may be.” That evening culminates in the death of her friend and colleague, Harriet Mendelsohn and the mother of Billy, her young neighbor. The moving and poignant description of Billy’s realization of his loss is  “And then the boy crumpled in the doorway where he stood, the familiar voice cutting the string that had held him upright.” I was as riveted by this account as Emma in her kitchen in Franklin where “In the quiet after the voice stopped, Emma found herself stuck at the sink with a cigarette halfway to her lips…” For me the most moving description of the Blitz, by far, was in Sarah Blake’s inclusion of words attributed to an Ernie Pyle broadcast that vividly captures the desperation and fear that Londoners faced daily. “ – lying there far underground like rabbits, not fighting, not even mad, just helpless, scourged, weakly waiting –“

 

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HannaintheTriad
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I agree about the spirits in the air.  Many years ago I was in London as a student and visited the bombed out shell of a church that was preserved from WWII.  The contrast of the jagged walls and empty window frames next to a busy otherwise normal city street really spoke to reality of living with war.

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MsReaderCP
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Harriet has a purpose.  She knows the Jews are being rounded up, but for what purpose.  She is gathering up every letter, poster, anything to keep in her file and help her towards this goal.

 

Frankie's goal is more general.  She's a young reporter in a man's world wanting to make it big. She doesn't care what the story is or if it carries a little risk.  She's been cooped up with a boring  mom an an easy life in a brownstone; a little risk seems a little exciting. 

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BookBobBP
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Franklin as a town seems aware there is a war in Europe but it does not seem to be their war.   I think as a reader the more the people listen to Frankie's broadcast the more they get drawn into it.  I think of the one part in the book were Emma is listening to the story of the boy losing his mother and just wants to do something about it but can not.  I found it interesting the Will when he decides to go to London uses Emma's feelings for the boy to justify his leaving to help.

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pattycakeMN
Posts: 24
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (My thoughts)

I agree with you (and Emma) that Will is running away.  However, I wonder if he will somehow vindicate the Fitch name when his time in England helping others is over?

 

Patricia

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Mommy-Read-Write
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

The way Sarah Blake writes made me feel transported immediately to this time and place in history.  However, the scene with Frankie and the gunners on the ground in London is when the war started to feel very real to me in the context of the story.  My heart was pounding while reading that section.  While I've never been in a battle such as this - I can understand the need for action.  I really felt that the soldiers - even though they were  definitely afraid - just wanted to engage and meet their enemy head-on.  Their joy at still being alive at the end of it was palpable.

 

 

When does the war feel "real" to each of the characters?

The war seems very real to Frankie once she reaches London and sees the devastaion first-hand.  For Emma - she's aware of the war through listening to Frankie's broadcasts.  However, it becomes very real to her and Will when he loses Maggie and deals with that pain by running to London to help as a doctor over there.  While I think it's admirable of him to want to help in wartime - it is not admirable that he is running from his own wife and town - who need him immensely.  At this point in the book - I don't feel as if the war is yet 'real' for Iris.  She seems slightly aloof about it to me.

 

How does the experience of listening to the news via radio in the 40s differ from our experience of getting news from the television and internet? Frankie thinks often of the path her voice travels and believes that the sound of war and a person's voice carries the events straight into American living rooms. Do you agree? While there was a degree of censorship in the news in the 40's - it seems that it was still more truthfully and urgently told than it is now.  Yes, Frankie, Harriet and the others were coached to report calmly but there still seemed to be an urgency in regard to timeliness and really telling the stories as they were occurring.  I feel that we have lost some of that humanity to the real world feeling with all of our technological advances.  Yes, we can communicate instantly with someone 6,000 miles away but it seems like communication was generally warmer and more heart-felt in the 1940's.

 

What is the town of Franklin like? How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?

The town of Franklin seems very removed from the war.  With the exception of Otto - no one is effected by the war until Will enlists to go to London.  Harry is the only one who really seems to be trying to take a proactive step toward safety.

Sheery

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
~ Emilie Buchwald ~