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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
Small Island - Andrea Levy I know quite a bit about the war years (~1915-50) in Britain, but I learned more reading this book that covers the experience of Jamaican British immigrants and soldiers during and after WWII. The most surprising historical information I got was how Britain coped with Yankee soldiers expecting Brits to enforce "Jim Crow" segregation in the small towns in which they were stationed. Britain didn't have segregation before that and many local townspeople, while they didn't exactly think of black Brits as "one of ours," still felt it was uncivilized to segregate. But the American soldiers were adamant and this caused tension and fights. Regardless of the treatment they received, many Jamaican soldiers, once demobbed home, realized that there wasn't much for them in their home country and returned to England to seek a better life, only to find that prejudice was stronger after the war. Tight storytelling told from several perspectives. The author is able to successfully inhabit the minds of characters ranging from a conservative white soldier, to a Jamaican woman proud of her schooling, to an easy-going Jamaican man trying to navigate an unfamiliar and hostile environment. It's easy to sympathize with them all.