A significant and arresting section in the second half of Life After Life occurs during the period of the German bombings of London during World War II known as "The Blitz." This period between September 1940 and May 1941 was a time of fear, destruction and collective British determination. The nickname comes from the German word "Blitzkrieg" meaning "lightning war." The Blitz followed Germany's unsuccessful attempts, between July and September 1940, to weaken or eliminate the Royal Air Force's ability to defend Britain - a period known as the Battle of Britain. During the Blitz, bombing raids instead focused on civilian and industrial targets in London and other cities. It is estimated that over 40,000 civilians were killed, with many more injured, and over one million British homes destroyed.
Histories and summaries agree that the ability of the citizens of London and other targeted cities to maintain collective morale was key in the overall fate of the country in the war. This so called "Blitz Spirit," though likely exaggerated and glorified over time, disappointed Germany's hopes of crushing the English via personal and individual loss. The establishment of a Civil Defense system was a large part of the reason British communities did not completely crumble. The reliance of volunteers and specifically women volunteers in the system was remarkable. Air Raid Patrol wardens were some of the most essential and endangered of these volunteers. These ARP wardens experienced battle-like circumstances as they directed, organized and rescued during the intense bombing and its aftermath.
Kate Atkinson's depiction of these civilian warriors in Life After Life is clearly based on careful research and is all the more potent as a result.
Photo of St. Paul's Cathedral standing amidst the smoke from the Blitz, in December 1940. Photo of children in an eastern suburb of London, rendered homeless by the Blitz.
This article was originally published in April 2013, and has been updated for the
January 2014 paperback release.
Click here to go to this issue.
This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.
Discover your next great read here
There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all.
Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.