Wednesday, July 15, 2015
The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys
Author: Helen Humphreys
Publisher: Mariner Books
Published Date: February 3rd 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction, GLBT
Page Count: 304
My Rating: ★ ★ ★
Downed during his first mission, James Hunter is taken captive as a German POW. To bide the time, he studies a nest of redstarts at the edge of camp. Some prisoners plot escape; some are shot. And then, one day, James is called to the Kommandant's office.
Meanwhile, back home, James's new wife, Rose, is on her own, free in a way she has never known. Then, James's sister, Enid, loses everything during the Blitz and must seek shelter with Rose. In a cottage near Ashdown forest, the two women jealously guard secrets, but form a surprising friendship. Each of these characters will find unexpected freedom amid war's privations and discover confinements that come with peace. "The Evening Chorus "is a beautiful, astonishing examination of love, loss, escape, and the ways in which the intrusions of the natural world can save us.
"Another time might be easier than this one, but there's only the time you're in, think Enid. and it's always going to be lacking somehow. Best to spend some of your moments here on earth noticing what else is here with you instead of concentrating solely on your own misery."
This book was not what I was expecting at all. Having said that though I didn't end up hating it surprisingly. Humphrey's writes the characters so humanly and shows us all the sides of what happened making you unable to hate any of the characters by the end of the story.
When the book starts were following James a RAF pilot who has just been captured and taken to a POW Camp. From there we see how he spent his time there and some of what happened in the camp. While in the Camp James makes a study of some birds and spends all of his time doing that instead of trying to escape like several of the other prisoners. While he is there we also see how a lot of the prisoners wrote to their wife and how they handled being away for so long and tried to keep their marriages going even though they were captured. But we also see how James didn't really even try to engage his wife in conversation. He only ever told her about the birds he was watching, and asked her things to look up for him about said birds. This is a part that really bothered me and it also showed me how this was more a rushed marriage, then we first realized.
Now onto Rose, I was really looking forward to seeing how the wife's handled their husbands being away especially when they hadn't had kids yet. And, we did see this and I really did enjoy this part. In Rose's part of the story we see how not only is she still running a household for one person and a dog (which James got annoyed over), she is also working as a blackout inspector (where they walked through the town and made sure all of the lighters were out or that the windows were covered.) which lead us to a very nice older women, who was also very lonely. But we also see what else happens when communication goes wrong and how sometimes even though you love someone sometimes it's not the right person to spend your forever with. While at first this part did make me mad it also showed what most likely did happen a lot.
Enid was the most surprising character for me. We start out the book not liking her at all and by the end of the book she was my favorite character. When we first meet her she is having to move in with Rose due to her flat being bombed in London, causing her to have only a few clothing items left. With this we also learn things that happened and London during that time and how people dealt with them. We also learned about a secret relationship that she was in that because a theme for her in her life.
In the beginning of the story, it is the 1940s and by the end it is 1950s, and while there is a big chunk of time skipped you can guess what had happened during that time by piecing together what happened in the 1950.
Side note: We don't know about the GLBT character until the end.