Monday, 24 September 2012

Review of War Crimes for the Home, a Novel by Liz Jensen.



War Crimes for the HomeWar Crimes For The Home, A Novel By Liz Jensen.

Gloria, the protagonist, is an elderly lady whom everyone assumes is suffering with a form of senile dementia. Gloria is in a care home and she is quite a cantankerous woman who comes across as rather brazen and crude at times. The author uses a series of flashbacks to narrate our protagonists tale, taking us back to the 1940’s and World War Two. It contains humour but equally hides a grim twist which when revealed is quite a nasty surprise. 

During the war, Gloria worked at a munitions factory with her sister Marjorie. She gets what she can where she can, such as ciggies, because tomorrow she might be dead. She likes jokes and loves telling them. 'You know what they say about GI's and knickers? One Yank and they're off!'
Then she meets Ron, a handsome GI and falls in love. In telling her story, the aged Gloria seems to be haunted by the ghost of a baby girl which she finds very disturbing. This apparition recurs throughout the story and Gloria's reluctance to confront her past fully causes great frustration for her family.

The juxtaposition of her young and happy days during the war with her aging years now spent in the care home is truly a stark contrast. Gloria is a well defined character with a very strong and realistic voice and I found myself willing everything to work out for both herself and Ron but we can't always have the happy ever after. Jensen narrates a tale that is dark, comic and poignant.

Jensen has crafted an excellent novel, well written and clearly well researched. It portrays what life was like for women on the home front, coping with air raids, bombing, rations and GI’s. It also indirectly looks at attitudes towards sex, relationships and war brides with startling reality and a twist.