Their Finest Hour

The London Blitz began on this day in 1940 and continued, in the city and throughout the country, for the next eight months. The defiance demonstrated by ordinary citizens throughout England became an inspiration to the nation and its allies. Margaret Gaskin's Blitz (2011) recreates how ordinary Londoners spent December 29, 1940, the day when the Daily Mail's Herbert Mason took perhaps the most iconic photo of the war, showing St. Paul's still standing amid a cloud of smoke and destruction:

On that distant alien night in that distant alien city, built as much of stories as stones, bespectacled bank clerks and pale drapers' assistants, lads on push-bikes, tea ladies in hats, elderly clerics and mitteleuropean refugees, librarians, secretaries, Cockneys and Colonials, fought alongside London's firemen, police and rescue workers, professional and volunteer, to write their own page in their city's long history.

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.

 

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).