Book name: Carrie’s War
Author: Nina Bawden
Publisher: Victor Gollancz Ltd
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Vintage children’s fiction
Publication Date: 1973
Star Rating: 5/5
Books for children set in times of national upheaval have always been popular, in part for their narrative drive and partly because they allow future generations to understand a little of what has happened in turbulent times in history.
When Carrie’s War begins, Carrie and her brother Nick are travelling to Wales to be billeted with a local family as a part of the national evacuation scheme.
Their father is in the navy and their mother is going to drive an ambulance.
Carrie and Nick will stay with Mr Evans, a bachelor, and his downtrodden sister Louisa.
The Evans’ third sibling, Mrs Gotobed, is housebound and gravely ill. She lives in an ancient house at Druid’s Bottom, and the Evanses are estranged from her.
Carrie and Nick are resourceful, so they learn to adjust to the spartan environment of the Evans’ home and unpleasant feel.
Louisa is frightened of her brother, and Mr Evans is critical and bullies her all the time.
Carrie and Nick find their visits to Druid’s Bottom far more amenable than staying at home, especially as Albert, a fellow evacuee, is staying there.
The housekeeper is very friendly, a disabled relative of Mrs Gotobed is kind and welcoming, and even Mrs Gotobed is able to welcome them in some ways.
Carrie is terrified of a legend surrounding a boy’s skull that is kept in the house. Folk tales say that the skull has cursed the house.
Yet the children are drawn back to Druid’s Bottom, and the connection between them and the family becomes stronger than ever.
When Carrie returns decades later, she has children and is now widowed.
The visit provides Carrie with an opportunity to reflect on her actions at the time and process the guilt she has been carrying for many years.
The story of Carrie’s War was surprisingly, in fact determinedly, upbeat. Carrie and Nick were brave and resourceful. They make the best of their situation and are determined not to let their mother know of their unhappiness when she visits.
On the other hand, Carrie has taken the consequences of her actions with her through the intervening years. She is now ready to address what happened rather than simply blocking it out.
I loved this story. The atmosphere is rural Wales in the war was very effectively created. Nina Bawden worked hard to create a positive, satisfying ending and I was glad to see how everything turned out for the main characters and for Louisa Evans.
Thank you for reading my review.
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