The Blitz: Background information when reading Life After Life

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson X
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2013, 544 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2014, 560 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Blitz

Print Review

St. Paul's Cathedral surrounded by smoke in December 1940A 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.

Children in an eastern suburb of London made homeless by the BlitzHistories 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.

Article by Stacey Brownlie

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.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Names They Used for God
    All the Names They Used for God
    by Anjali Sachdeva
    Pre-publication press has already compared Anjali Sachdeva to Kelly Link and other genre-blending ...
  • Book Jacket: Look Alive Out There
    Look Alive Out There
    by Sloane Crosley
    After a brief (and thoroughly enjoyable) foray into fiction (with her 2015 novel The Clasp), Sloane ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.