Sunday, May 17, 2020

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

2017, first published 1973  

This was written some time after World War II although the story is set at that time and centres on Carrie and her younger brother Nick who are evacuated to a small mining town in Wales.  There are some themes to do with evacuation: the feeling of discomfort the children have at first in their new home, to a large extent not without cause, and the awkwardness they feel when their mother comes to visit.

However, the story goes much deeper than this. Mr Evans the grocer is strict with them and his sister, the much kinder and softer Auntie Lou. The children are not allowed on the stair carpet and must use the outside earth closet during the day. Mr Evans threatens to thrash Nick because he steals biscuits from the shop.  Mr Evans is estranged from his other sister Dilys who married a Gotobed, the owner of the pit where their father was killed. He is furious when he finds out that Dilys has left the house to him but insists that house-keeper Hepzibah and a Gotobed relation, Mr Johnny, who is disabled, should be allowed to stay there.  

Carrie is riddled with guilt because she thinks she has released a curse on Druid’s Bottom, where Mr Johnny and Hepzibah live.  As they leave the village they see the house on fire. Only as an adult does she find out that the fire was caused by Mr Johnny playing with matches.
This is quite a short book and the chapters are also short.               

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