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Chapter 17 - The Wartime Book Club

My fiction reading has been all over the board this year as you can probably tell from my posts. While the bulk does seem to be historical in nature, the time periods have been spanned the centuries from ancient Greece to the 1980's (yes, hard to believe that is considered historical fiction - ouch!). I would be hard pressed to name a time period which is my favorite. When I was young, it used to be Civil War books, in my twenties I gravitated toward medieval times as well as the Tudors, but now my go-to books, both fiction and non-fiction, tend to be World War II books. Although almost any historical period interests me.

Oddly enough a lot of World War II information is now being revealed, either by declassification or because true stories are finally being told. I guess as the greatest generation is now leaving us it has become more important than ever to hear their accounts. I especially like books based on fact because I feel as if they have more meat in them. Here are some particularly good books I'd recommend.

The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson - The Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans in 1940, two years after the war began. For the British people who lived there it was a double hardship not only did they have to live under the strict rules of the Nazi regime but also they almost starved as their rations were cut significantly to support the Germans as the war went on. Thompson's book tells the story of Grace La Mottee, Jersey's only librarian, who has been ordered to destroy books thought to be subversive to the Nazis. She hides these books but decides to form a book club to give her fellow citizens a chance to escape reality through reading. This book was inspired by a true story.

No Better Time: A Novel of the Spirited Women of the Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion by Sheila Williams - When the war started women of every race also wanted to help the war effort. This novelized account of the Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory Battalion is about a group of over 800 predominately African American WACs who were sent to England to clean up the mail sent to GIs from their loved ones, an estimated 17 million pieces. What they found and what they accomplished sounds like a Grimm's fairy tale. This is, of course, based on a true story.

The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham - Here is another book inspired by true events. A young woman in the French resistance helps a downed American pilot even though it takes her away from her current mission. In America, years later, when Jeanne uncovers a dusty box in her father's garage she finds that she has inherited a bookstore in France. As she looks deeper into the inheritance, Jeanne finds out the true story of the little bookstore's owner and her place in the history of World War II.

Sisters Under the Rising Sun by Heather Morris - Morris is the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and other books of the Holocaust. In this novel she turns her attention to the war in Asia. Based on true events, two women become hostages of the Japanese and endure hardships, pain, and brutality to help each other and their fellow hostages to survive the war.

The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan - Jennifer Ryan has also written a few books about World War II. This book (based on true events) is about a brave and dedicated group of women who take their library underground after the building has been destroyed during the Blitz.

As most of these books were published in 2024, they may be still in hardback so check your local library to see if they have a copy. Any suggestions you might have for a "don't miss" World War II read, let me know.


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