Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes @AngelaMaryMor @RandomTTours #wartimestories @I_W_M #historical #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes. This is one of the books that has been republished by the Imperial War Museum.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of this book.

A reissue of Anthony Rhodes’s acclaimed 1942 novel detailing his own wartime experience during the evacuation at Dunkirk. 

It is September 1939. Shortly after World War II is declared, Anthony Rhodes is sent to France, serving with the British Army. His days are filled with the minutiae and mundanities of army life—friendships, billeting, administration—as the months of the “Phoney War” quickly pass and the conflict seems a distant prospect. 

It is only in the spring of 1940 that the true situation becomes clear. The men are ordered to retreat to the coast and the beaches of Dunkirk, where they face a desperate and terrifying wait for evacuation. 

Purchase from – IWM Online Shop

My Review…

This is a memoir and it is quite an easy read from the viewpoint of the author. His job in the British Army is to organise accommodation, supplies and help prepare for the rest of the troops behind him. There is a certain amount of camaraderie that comes across as he works out the logistics of getting things in place.

While he is out and organising it does appear that he is not in the thick of things, there is a certain amount of disbelief that Germany is really attacking as it is not seen first hand. In fact, they don’t get close to the enemy until further in the book and the retreat to Dunkirk is ordered.

There were times with this book that I did have to remind myself that is written and based on the authors own experiences. While it is a memoir it does read like historical fiction. This is written very much of the time and the language and style of writing have words or phrases that we would not use today. There were also a few french phrases that I didn’t understand, if I had read it on my kindle I could have checked quicker.

This is a book of the time and it does have a sort of reserve to it. There is some humour as tales are recounted. This is a book that at times I did struggle with as it didn’t hold my interest as much as I hoped it would. I did like it and I have rounded it up from 3.5 to 4 stars.

This is one for those who like memoirs set during WWII, I did enjoy it and therefore I would recommend it.

About the Author…

– Anthony Rhodes (1916 – 2004) served with the British Army in France during the
so-called ‘Phoney War’ and was evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940. In the latter part of the war he was
sent to Canada as a camouflage officer and was invalided out of the Army in 1947 having served for 12 years.
After the conflict he enjoyed a long academic and literary career and wrote on various subjects, including the
1956 Hungarian Revolution for the Daily Telegraph and well-regarded histories of the Vatican.

About the Imperial War Museum…

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving
Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.
Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas
and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our
five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to
look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and
consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.
IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, which will open
extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in autumn 2021; IWM North, housed in an
iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation
museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret
headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

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Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis @I_W_M @angelamarymar @RandomTTours #wartimeclassics #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Pathfinders by Cecil Lewis. This is a wartime classis that is being republished by the Imperial War Museum.

I wish to thank Anne at Random Things tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy of the book.

Here is some information about the Imperial War Museum…


IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts
involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas
and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our
five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to
look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and
consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.


IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, which will open
extensive new Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in autumn 2021; IWM North, housed in an
iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation
museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret
headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.

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IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS TO PUBLISH ANOTHER NOVEL IN THEIR WARTIME CLASSICS SERIES FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE FAMOUS MEMOIR SAGITTARIUS RISING


In May 2021, IWM will publish two more novels in their Wartime Classics series which was launched in
September 2019 to great acclaim, bringing the total novels in the series to ten. Each has been brought back
into print to enable a new generation of readers to hear stories of those who experienced conflict firsthand.


First published in 1944 and set over the course of one night in 1942, the story follows the fate of six crew
members of a Wellington bomber ‘P for Pathfinder’ thrown together by chance from different corners of the
world. They each reflect on the paths of their own lives, as they embark on a fateful mission deep into the
heart of Nazi Germany. Cecil Lewis’ novel examines the life of every man in turn, rendering a moving
account of each as not merely a nameless crew member, but as an individual with a life lived, ‘a life precious
to some, or one… these men with dreams and hopes and plans of things to come.”


Cecil Lewis was a flying instructor for the RAF during the Second World War where he taught hundreds of
pilots to fly, including his own son. It was while doing this training that he wrote Pathfinders. Pupils were
graded by the time it took them to fly solo – the best became fighters and then bombers. The RAF’s Bomber
Command was the only branch of the armed forces that could take direct action against Germany and in
1942 the strategic air offensive changed from precision to area bombing where whole cities were targeted in
order to destroy factories as well as the morale of those who worked in them.


The ‘pathfinders’ of the story were needed because often the bombers could not find the towns and cities
they were destined to attack at night, let alone the industrial centres within. The crew used coloured marker
flares to guide the bombers to their targets and the crews selected (often from the USA, Canada and NZ as
well as Britain) were the best night flying crews who were able to find the target unaided. As a pilot who
took part in both World Wars, Cecil Lewis brings his unique experience to bear, shining a light on this vital
and sometimes contested aspect of Britain’s Second World War focusing on the sacrifice made by the Allied
airmen it depicts.


IWM Senior Curator, Alan Jeffreys, has written an introduction to each book that provides context and the
wider historical background. He says, ‘researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable
projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and
helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

My Review…

I am so glad that The Imperial War Museum has republished this book. Originally published in 1944 I was expecting a book that focused mainly on World WarII, instead, I got a great book that told me of individuals and their personal lives.

Pathfinders is a fabulous read and the focus is on the crew of P for Pathfinder, a Wellington bomber. The crew are of mixed nationalities from as far afield as Canada and Australia. The author begins this book with quite a sombre opening and gives details of where the war is at, or at what stage it is at. He then goes onto delve into the background of each of the crew.

Each crew member gets a chapter and the author gives a brief history of the parents and living conditions or lifestyles of the time. It then goes into more detail about the crew member and how or why they made the journey to join up.

This is a very insightful and quite a poignant book that has some wonderful descriptions and observations, at times it leans toward a literary fiction style and I found these sections to be such a pleasure to read. It is not an action-packed book as such but it does feel very personal.

There is an introduction at the beginning of the book from one of the historians of the museum. I didn’t read this as I just wanted to get straight into the story, but I did glance over it afterwards.

This is a book that I really enjoyed, it gives each crew member a face and a story rather than just being part of a bomber. It is a book that readers who like WWII accounts, stories and historical fiction readers will enjoy. Something a little different for me compared to my usual reads and one I would recommend.

About the Author…

Cecil Lewis (1898 – 1997) was a British fighter ace in the First World War and his
memoir Sagittarius Rising became a classic of the literature from that war, considered by many to be the
definitive account of aerial combat. He was a flying instructor for the RAF during the Second World War where he taught hundreds of pilots to fly, including his own son. After the war he was one of the founding
executives of the BBC and enjoyed friendships with many of the creative figures of the day, including George
Bernard Shaw, winning an Academy Award for co-writing the 1938 film adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion. He
had a long and varied career but retained a passion for flying all his life. In 1969 he sailed a boat to Corfu
where he spent the remainder of his life, dying two months short of his 99th birthday. He was the last
surviving British fighter ace of the First World War.

Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

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Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw #Audiobook #Review

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Pygmalion by George Berard Shaw. I listened to the Radio 4 Full Cast Version via Borrowbox and my local library.

I love the film “My Fair Lady” and Pygmalion is a book I have been meaning to read for a while now so when I saw this recent version I couldn’t resist.

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

  • Shaw wrote the part of Eliza Doolittle – an east-end dona with an apron and three orange and red ostrich feathers – for Mrs Patrick Campbell, with whom he had a passionate but unconsummated affair. From the outset the play was a sensational success, although Shaw, irritated by its popularity at the expense of his artistic intentions, dismissed it as a potboiler. The Pygmalion of legend falls in love with his perfect female statue and persuades Venus to bring her to life so that he can marry her. But Shaw radically reworks Ovid’s tale to give it a feminist slant: while Higgins teaches Eliza to speak and act like a duchess, she also asserts her independence, adamantly refusing to be his creation.
  • Cast and credits
    Pygmalion
    Henry Higgins……………………Alistair McGowan
    Eliza Doolittle……………………Morgana Robinson
    Alfred Doolittle……………………Al Murray
    Colonel Pickering……………………Hugh Fraser
    Mrs Higgins……………………Siân Phillips
    Mrs Pearce/Maid……………………Charlotte Page
    Mrs Eynsford-Hill……………………Georgie Glen
    Clara Eynsford-Hill……………………Maeve Bluebell Wells
    Freddy Eynsford-Hill…..……………………Tom Forrister
    Nepommuck……………………David Sturzaker
    Ambassador……………………John Dougall
    Ambassador’s wife……………………Sarah Ridgeway
    Bystander……………………David Sterne
    Written by Bernard Shaw
    Produced and directed by Emma Harding

    The ‘B’ Word
    Bernard Shaw……………………Alistair McGowan
    George Alexander……………………David Sturzaker
    Mrs Patrick Campbell…..……………………Charlotte Page
    Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree……………………Richard McCabe
    Charlotte Shaw……………………Georgie Glen
    Merivale……………………Philip Fox
    Gurney/Fishman……………………Simon Ludders
    Bell……………………Charlie Clements
    Maid……………………Sarah Ridgeway
    Written by Alistair McGowan
    Produced and directed by Emma Harding
  • Published by:BBC Digital Audio
  • Duration:2 Hours 38 min
  • Fiction/Non-Fiction:Fiction
  • Genre:Classics, Performing Arts
  • Target Audience:Adult
  • Released:31 Oct 2018
  • File Format:MP3 (27MB)
  • ISBN:9781787531536

I adore My Fair Lady and for me, Audrey Hepburn is Eliza Doolittle. What I know as the film My Fair Lady forms part of the play by Shaw in which Professor Higgins has a bet that he can teach and train a cockney flower girl to sound, look and act like a lady. That section of the story is a play to be shown and in which a certain “B” word will be used for the first time on stage. I do hope that makes sense! 🤔

So if you like this is a story of two parts. There is the stage play where I got to meet the actors and, it also includes some backstage banter and part the opening night reactions, then there is the play itself with the characters of Eliza and Professor Higgins. Does that make any more sense…I think not!!! 😬😜😀

How about I just tell you about how I found the listening side of it instead of trying to explain the story!

This is such a wonderful audio to listen to with a fabulous cast adding the voices to the various characters who bring the story to life. As this is a version that has a full cast it was very easy for me to follow the changes of character.

The story of Eliza and her transformation is one I absolutely adore and I was completely addicted to it. As it just over 2 and 1/2 hours long I was able to do some weeding and listen to it easily in one afternoon.

This is such a wonderful version to sit and listen to, mesmerising and very addictive. If you are new to listening to plays or audio books then this would be a very good place to start.

It is one I would definitely recommend!

And then I sat down and watched the film… 😁💖

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery #review

Todays review is for a childrens classic The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Synopsis:

When a pilot crash-lands in the Sahara Desert he meets a stranger – a little prince – who has arrived on Earth from an entirely different planet. By listening to the prince’s stories and his questions about the world, it becomes clear to the pilot that truths about life can reveal themselves in the most unlikely of places.

Translated into 180 languages and selling over 80 million copies, this beautiful and wise tale of childhood innocence will delight readers of all ages. This edition also includes Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s charming original illustrations.

My Thoughts:

This book is one that definitely shows its age. What I mean is how technology has advanced since its original publication in April 1943. This is something that is very obvious and actually adds something to the reading experience. It has an old charm and almost twee-ness to it.

The book has a few moralistic types of messages to it and while they may not always clear during the reading, by the end I think I  found them. What I thought was that things are not missed until they are gone. As the world has moved forward with advances in science, medicine, and technology it is the basic things in life that we do not realise are around. Another is how the world is perceived through the eyes of a child, being simple, basic and without all the noise of life getting in the way. Also the message of everyone being unique, yes we are part of a society of other people, but we all have our own special qualities that make us special to other people. I think different readers would probably get their own ideas of what this book was trying to tell, but these are my thoughts.

I found the story itself to be interesting as I followed The Little Prince from his home to other places before finally meeting a stranded pilot on earth. The pilot is the narrator of this story and recounts what the Prince tells him. At times I did feel a little bit confused as I felt I was missing some of the points that were being made, but as I started to get towards the end things started to become clear.

The story has quite a sombre feel to it as it explains how we do not see what is around us as we are so busy rushing around, jobs, shopping meetings all take time. I think this is something most of us can relate to.

I did enjoy this story and thought it was very thought provoking. It was easy to get caught up into as I followed the Prince on his travels. The end is open to the readers interpretation of what happened to The Little Prince, I have my own thoughts as to what happened to him in my mind and where I think he went, others may think differently. This possible difference in a readers own interpretation is something that makes this book special. I have read other reviews from other readers and while they do have some similarities, there are some differences.

Overall I would recommend this book as I did really enjoy it.

About the Author:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons on June 29, 1900. He flew for the first time at the age of twelve, at the Ambérieu airfield, and it was then that he became determined to be a pilot. He kept that ambition even after moving to a school in Switzerland and while spending summer vacations at the family’s château at Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, in eastern France. (The house at Saint-Maurice appears again and again in Saint-Exupéry’s writing.)

Later, in Paris, he failed the entrance exams for the French naval academy and, instead, enrolled at the prestigious art school l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1921 Saint-Exupéry began serving in the military, and was stationed in Strasbourg. There he learned to be a pilot, and his career path was forever settled. 

After leaving the service, in 1923, Saint-Exupéry worked in several professions, but in 1926 he went back to flying and signed on as a pilot for Aéropostale, a private airline that flew mail from Toulouse, France, to Dakar, Senegal. In 1927 Saint-Exupéry accepted the position of airfield chief for Cape Juby, in southern Morocco, and began writing his first book, a memoir called Southern Mail, which was published in 1929. He then moved briefly to Buenos Aires to oversee the establishment of an Argentinean mail service; when he returned to Paris in 1931, he published Night Flight, which won instant success and the prestigious Prix Femina. 

Always daring, Saint-Exupéry tried in 1935 to break the speed record for flying from Paris to Saigon. Unfortunately, his plane crashed in the Libyan desert, and he and his copilot had to trudge through the sand for three days to find help. In 1938 he was seriously injured in a second plane crash, this time as he tried to fly between New York City and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The crash resulted in a long convalescence in New York. 

Saint-Exupéry’s next novel, Wind, Sand and Stars, was published in 1939. A great success, the book won the Académie Française’s Grand Prix du Roman (Grand Prize for Novel Writing) and the National Book Award in the United States. At the beginning of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry flew reconnaissance missions for France, but he went to New York to ask the United States for help when the Germans occupied his country. He drew on his wartime experiences to write Flight to Arras and Letter to a Hostage, both published in 1942. His classic The Little Prince appeared in 1943. Later in 1943 Saint-Exupéry rejoined his French air squadron in northern Africa. Despite being forbidden to fly (he was still suffering physically from his earlier plane crashes), Saint-Exupéry insisted on being given a mission. On July 31, 1944, he set out from Borgo, Corsica, to overfly occupied France. He never returned. 

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck #BookReview

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Today I have my thoughts on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It was a chance for me to take a dip into one of the classics, I had read quite a few of the classics a couple of years and never did quite get round to this one. I have read Grapes of Wrath and also Cannery Row and enjoyed them and gave me a chance to get a feel for the authors grim and gritty style. You can get a copy of Of Mice and Men from most good bookshops and online at Amazon UK, my copy is the Penguin Red Classics edition.

Synopsis:

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie, have nothing in the world except the clothes on their back – and a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are dashed as Lennie – struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy – becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes of friendship and shared vision, and giving a voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men remains Steinbeck’s most popular work, achieving success as a novel, Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

My Thoughts:

Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie. They work various jobs and travel around looking for new work as one job runs out or they run out. The story begins as they head towards their next job. George has a dream to one day own his own plot of land and Lennie is happily caught up in this vision of the future. Lennie is a gentle giant of a man and is referred to as being not very bright but will work hard and do as he is told.

George looks out for Lennie and knows that many would not want a man like Lennie working for them, prejudice at this point in history is ripe so anyone being slightly different is not acceptable to many. Even though George is often frustrated by the simple nature of Lennie, he is a friend and will support him. They are each other has.

This is a simple tale of friendship between two men travelling for work. Rather than being loners as many travelling labourers are, they have a bond in their friendship, they are able to talk about their dreams for the future and it gives them hope. George tries his best to keep Lennie out of trouble, but this is not always possible and  misunderstandings do happen.

This is a quick read at only 121 pages and is easy to read in one sitting. It’s style is one I like, a slow meandering yet descriptive and emotional one. It explores various inequalities and prejudices that were relevant at the time. A wonderful read that slowly rolls along until it picks up speed as a sense of tension begins to build.

This is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoy American Social History, Literary Fiction and  Classic Fiction.

About the Author:

41Hta3i6uDL._UX250_ John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952)East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954)The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969),Viva Zapata! (1975,The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.
Photo by Nobel Foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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